Russia has announced that it will respond harshly to the US orders to shut down its consulate in San Francisco.
The consensus among the intelligence agencies in the US is that Russia interfered in the US Presidential elections in 2016. The nation is accused of hacking the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Russia has denied it had anything to do with the hacking or with the influence campaign to harm Hillary Clinton’s Presidential bid.
US has imposed harsh sanctions on Russia to hit its energy sector in connection to the hacking. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly denied Russia’s role in the US elections, announced that US would have to remove 755 of its diplomats from Russia.
Relations between US and Russia has significantly deteriorated in the recent months. When the US announced that it would be continuing its engagement in the war in Afghanistan, Russian politicians openly criticized the nation. Russian Senator Aleksey Pushkov took to Twitter to note, “George Bush Junior started the war, Barack Obama promised to end it but never did it. As a result, President Donald Trump has been left with a disaster on his hands. Loser superpower.”
In August, the US Department of State ordered Russia to shut operations of the Russian consulate in San Francisco. It has also asked Russia to close two annex buildings in Washington and New York. US announced that the decision had been made in the “spirit of parity”. It also noted that it hoped this would be the end of “retaliatory” actions from either side and the nations can move forward to establish a more positive relationship in the future.
However, Russia has signaled that it will be retaliating against US orders soon. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow "will have a tough response to the things that come totally out of the blue to hurt us and are driven solely by the desire to spoil our relations with the United States.”
He also accused of US of not cooperating with Russia. He added, “We are open even now for constructive cooperation where it corresponds to Russian interests. But it takes two to tango and so far our partner is, again and again, doing an individual break dance."
Lavrov is set to meet with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later this month.
Russia was given until September 2nd to end its operations in the consulate. The nation has said that FBI had intended to search its premises. Smoke was seen billowing from its chimney just hours before the consulate was shut down. According to Russia, the consulate in Russia had issued more than 16,000 tourist visas to American citizens last year.
As we had earlier predicted, America’s decision to shut operations of the Russian consulate, has resulted in escalated tensions between the two regions.
Our assessment is that despite efforts by US President Donald Trump to pursue friendlier relations with Russia, that possibility seems unlikely in the immediate future. The two nations are currently locked in a diplomatic conflict that only seems to be escalating by the day.