September 1, 2017 / 2:59 PM / a year ago

Kremlin says U.S. closure of consulate fuels U.S.-Russia tensions

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Friday that a U.S. decision to close Russia’s San Francisco consulate and buildings in Washington and New York pushed bilateral ties further into a blind alley and fuelled a spiral of tit-for-tat retaliatory measures.

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov attends a joint news conference with Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani in Doha, Qatar August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

The United States on Thursday ordered Russia to close the facilities by Sept. 2 in retaliation for Moscow cutting the U.S. diplomatic presence in Russia.

“The new steps push our bilateral relations even further into a dead end and contradict other high level announcements ,” Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told a news briefing when asked about the closures.

“There have been words, but there’s no readiness to cooperate yet. This is about further escalating tensions. We regret this and will calmly think about how we might respond.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier on Friday that Moscow would respond harshly to U.S. measures it deemed damaging.

Moscow last month ordered the United States to cut its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia by more than half, to 455 people to match the number of Russian diplomats in the United States, after Congress overwhelmingly approved new sanctions against Russia.

Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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