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United States says Russian relationship in 'downward spiral'
February 22 2018, 04:44 | Irvin Gilbert
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The Trump administration retaliated Thursday against Russia's expulsion of USA diplomats ordering the Russian consulate in San Francisco closed and reducing the number of Russians in the Washington, D.C., embassy and consulate in NY.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States has fully complied with Russia's demand to reduce staff at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and at a smaller facility in St. Petersburg.
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. I asked Rogin where the diplomats would go and he confirmed that they would go to "A$3 ny of facilities in the USA the Russians choose".
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. At the time, Russian president Vladimir Putin said he hoped there would be no need for further reprisals but secretary of state Rex Tillerson later vowed to respond by September 1.
Relations between Washington and Moscow have become more tense since the Russian decision to reduce the U.S. diplomatic presence in Russia. Russia's new Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov begins his post Friday. Still, she said the US hoped both countries could now move toward "improved relations" and "increased cooperation".
The sanctions were imposed in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and to punish Russia further for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
In December, former President Barack Obama kicked out dozens of Russian officials in the USA, shuttered Russian recreational compounds in NY and Maryland, and sanctioned Russian individuals and entities. The Russian declaration had been a retaliation, in its own right, for the "insolence" demonstrated by new sanctions overwhelmingly passed by USA lawmakers.
On July 27, Congress approved a new sanctions bill targeting Russia, Iran and North Korea.
The move comes one day before Moscow's deadline for United States personnel to leave their positions and will take effect Saturday. In July, Trump and Putin signed off on a three-way deal with Jordan for a cease-fire in southwest Syria that the USA says has largely held intact.
The move follows a Russian Foreign Ministry order for the U.S.to scale back the number of diplomatic staff in Russia to 455.