U.S. retaliates against Russia by shrinking presence in NY and DC, forcing closure of San Francisco consulate

Chairman and CEO of US oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, speaks during the 2015 Oil and Money conference in central London on October 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The United States is retaliating against Russia by forcing closure of its consulate in San Francisco and scaling back its diplomatic presence in Washington and New York.

The State Department says move is in response to the Kremlin forcing a cut in U.S. diplomatic staff in Moscow. Spokesman Heather Nauert says the move brings the U.S. and Russia into “parity,” with each having three consulates in the other country.

Moscow forced the cut in American diplomatic staff earlier this year in retaliation for U.S. sanctions. Washington had to reduce its diplomatic staff by 755 people.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said the U.S. would respond by September.

The Russian offices must close by Saturday. The order affects Russia’s “chancery annex” in Washington and a “consular annex” in New York.