Russia Contemplates Retaliation After US Starts ‘Round Two’ of ‘Diplomatic War’
REUTERS/ Beck DiefenbachPolitics19:12 02.09.2017(updated 19:55 02.09.2017) Get short URL138350
Russia is weighing up a response to the US escalation of tension in bilateral relations and could retaliate in a number of different ways, political scientist Victor Olevich told Radio Sputnik.
On August 31, the US gave Russia just two days to shut down its Consulate General in San Francisco and two other diplomatic entities in New York City and Washington. The US State Department stated that the demand was made “in the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians.”
The escalation came after Russia required the US to cut the number of staff at its embassy in Russia by 755, bringing the number of employees to the same level as the Russian embassy in the US, following the expulsion of 35 diplomats by former US President Barack Obama.
From August 1, Russia also suspended the use of US embassy warehouses in Moscow, following the US Senate’s approval on July 27 of a new set of sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed regret about the escalating tension in bilateral relations and indicated that Moscow will carefully study the new measures announced by the Americans and then react.
“We will give a stern response to those things that damage us, out of nowhere, which are dictated only by the desire to spoil our relations with the United States,” Lavrov told students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations on Friday.
The closure of the Russian consulate in San Francisco is a very serious move on behalf of the US, political scientist Victor Olevich told Radio Sputnik.
“This is the oldest Russian consulate in the US, it has served the interests of citizens in the southwest of the US, in California and the Pacific coast. After it closes, there will be three Russian consulates general: in New York, Seattle and Houston, to where a range of functions will be transferred from the consulate general in San Francisco,” Olevich explained.
He emphasized that the so-called “diplomatic war” currently going on between the US and Russia was not started by Moscow.
“It should be noted that this diplomatic war was initiated by the Americans on December 29 last year, when the US expropriated Russian diplomatic assets and demanded the expulsion of Russian diplomats. The US considered the ‘first round’ of this war to be insufficient and has initiated a ‘second round’ of the diplomatic war that we are observing now.”
Olevich said that Moscow will be forced to take counter-measures, which may take several forms.
“A ‘softer’ answer would be to demand the closure of some auxiliary facilities of American diplomatic missions in Russia, or to expel some American diplomats, or to cut down American administrative and technical personnel in Russia. A ‘hard’ answer might be a demand to close one of the three American consulates general in Russia,” the analyst suggested.