Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that Russia is studying the United State’s decision to close Russia’s San Francisco consulate, as well as offices in New York City and Washington D.C., before Moscow will consider possible retaliation.
Lavrov said Moscow would react to the decision once it has finished analyzing the U.S. order, the Associated Press reported.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave Lavrov the order Thursday, telling him the closures needed to happen by Saturday.
On Friday, black smoke was seen coming from the consulate building in San Francisco, the AP reported. Firefighters arrived on the scene, but were turned away by consulate officials. Firefighters were told there was no problem and that consulate staff were burning unidentified items in a fireplace.
A San Francisco resident posted a video of the billowing smoke on Twitter Friday afternoon.
In discussing possible retaliatory action, Lavrov also defended Russia’s July decision to cut 755 U.S. diplomatic staff in Moscow as “reciprocal reaction” to then-President Barack Obama’s decision to expel Russian diplomats in December 2016.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the time he was not going to “leave anything unanswered,” Politico reported.
“I decided that it is time for us to show that we will not leave anything unanswered. We’ve been waiting for quite a long time that maybe something would change for the better, we had hopes that the situation would change. But it looks like it’s not going to change in the near future,” Putin said.
In response to Russia’s expulsion of the American diplomats, the U.S. Congress had already passed with almost unanimous support, and President Donald Trump signed, sanctions against Russia.
The Trump administration justified the action, saying the Kremlin’s expulsion of U.S. diplomats was “unwarranted and detrimental.”
(via: Free Beacon)