The United States has ordered Russia to shut down its embassy in San Francisco.
The nation has also told Russia to close an annex building in New York and Washington.
The consensus among the intelligence agencies in the US is that Russia conducted an “influence” campaign to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Russia is said to have hacked the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the personal email account of John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The data obtained from these hacks were allegedly forwarded to Wikileaks.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied Russia’s involvement in the matter. US President Donald Trump has been enigmatic with his views. He has stated that other countries could also be involved. Meanwhile, Trump has tried to pursue warmer relations with Putin.
There is a Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
In response to the alleged interference, the US imposed harsh sanctions on Russia. The sanctions targets Russian energy, financial, railways, shipping and metals and mining sectors.
In retaliation, Russian President, Vladimir Putin announced that 755 US diplomats would have to leave Russia by September 1, 2017. The ties between US and Russia have deteriorated in the recent months.
The US has accepted and implemented Russian government’s decision to reduce its mission in Russia. The nation has responded to the ouster of the diplomats by telling Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco. US has also told Russia to shut down two annex buildings in Washington and New York. The US has given Russia till September 2nd, 2017, to implement the government’s decision.
US has noted that this move was made in the “spirit of parity.” A statement from the US Department of State reads, “The United States hopes that, having moved toward the Russian Federation’s desire for parity, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides and move forward to achieve the stated goal of both of our presidents: improved relations between our two countries and increased cooperation on areas of mutual concern. The United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted.”
US and Russia will now have three consulates each respectively.
Putin had recently noted that he didn’t think relations between US and Russia are likely to improve in the near future. He said, “We waited for quite some time that maybe something will change for the better [with America], had such hope that the situation will somehow change. But, judging by everything, if it changes, it will not be soon.”
Our assessment is that the latest move by the US is likely to cause further tensions between America and Russia. This development may have been motivated by the “spirit of parity” but there remains a real danger of escalation.