The U.S. State Department announced the closure of Russia's consulate in San Francisco and other diplomat reductions Thursday in retaliation to similar measures by Moscow.
The tit-for-tat response iillustrates the deterioration in relations between Washington and Moscow in the seven months since President Donald Trump came to office promising to improve ties with Russian Federation.
At the start of Donald Trump's presidency in January, the Republican leader said he hoped for improved relations with Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation.
Relations between Washington and Moscow have become more tense since the Russian decision to reduce the USA diplomatic presence in Russia.
The Russian consulate in San Francisco is the oldest and most established consulate in the United States, according to administration officials, consisting of an office building and a residence.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin did not respond initially to that move, with Donald Trump set to assume office, he then announced on 31 July that 755 United States diplomatic staff must leave the country in retaliation for the USA sanctions.
Despite worsening relations between Moscow and Washington, North Korea's growing nuclear program poses significant challenges for both countries, which may create an opportunity for Russian Federation and the United States to cooperate in finding a resolution to the problem.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also held a phone conversation with his USA counterpart, Rex Tillerson, and expressed his regret about Washington's move. The order affects offices in Washington and NY. "It means that the U.S.is declaring the hot phase of diplomatic war".
It is not clear how numerous US-employed staff losing their jobs will be physically leaving the country, or how many are Russian citizens.
Slutsky is quoted by Russian news agencies as saying, "It's a highly unjust step".
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said the USA would respond by September. "But, judging by everything, if it changes, it will not be soon".
"We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries", she said, adding that the reciprocal move was made in the "spirit of parity".
Nauert said the USA was prepared to take additional actions "as warranted".
Washington-based analyst Boris Zilberman, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, warned the U.S. to be careful "that this cycle does not spin out of control". The Kremlin quickly retaliated, announcing the US must cut its own embassy and consulate staff down to 455. The order affects Russia's "chancery annex" in Washington and a "consular annex" in NY.
"Right now we need to calmly examine (this situation)".