Mea­sured an­swer

Rus­sia given 48 hours to com­ply with or­der to shut con­sulate, East Coast of­fices

Truro Daily News - - WORLD - By Nataliya Vasi­lyeva and Josh Le­d­er­man

Rus­sia vowed Fri­day to re­spond to a U.S. or­der to shut the Rus­sian Con­sulate in San Francisco and of­fices in Washington and New York, but also in­di­cated that Moscow was not in­clined to raise the stakes in the di­plo­matic tit-for-tat be­tween the two coun­tries.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion said the or­der is­sued Thurs­day was in re­tal­i­a­tion for the Krem­lin’s “un­war­ranted and detri­men­tal” de­mand last month that the U.S. sub­stan­tially re­duce the size of its di­plo­matic staff in Rus­sia.

“The United States is pre­pared to take fur­ther ac­tion as nec­es­sary and as war­ranted,” U.S. State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert said. Still, Nauert said Washington hoped both coun­tries could now move toward “im­proved re­la­tions” and “in­creased co-op­er­a­tion.”

The U.S. gave Rus­sia 48 hours to com­ply with the or­der for the San Francisco con­sulate and the East Coast of­fices. Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov said Fri­day that Moscow would re­ply with firm­ness, but needs time to study Washington’s direc­tive and to de­cide on a re­sponse.

“We 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,” Lavrov said in a tele­vised meeting with stu­dents at Rus­sia’s top diplo­macy school.

Other top Rus­sian of­fi­cials also urged cau­tion.

Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s for­eign pol­icy ad­viser, Yuri Ushakov, told Rus­sian news agen­cies later Fri­day that the Krem­lin “re­grets” the latest U.S. move and needs to “think care­fully about how we

could re­spond.”

Ushakov also left room for Rus­sia to re­frain from re­tal­i­a­tion.

“On the other hand, one does not want to go into a frenzy be­cause some­one has to be rea­son­able and stop,” he said.

The clo­sures on both U.S. coasts marked per­haps the most dras­tic di­plo­matic mea­sure by the United States against Rus­sia since 1986, near the end of the Cold War, when the nu­cle­ar­armed pow­ers ex­pelled dozens of each other’s diplo­mats.

Amer­i­can of­fi­cials ar­gued that Rus­sia had no cause for ret­ri­bu­tion now, not­ing that Moscow’s or­der­ing of U.S. di­plo­matic cuts last month was premised on bring­ing the two coun­tries’ di­plo­matic pres­ences into “par­ity.”

Both coun­tries now main­tain

three con­sulates in each other’s ter­ri­tory and os­ten­si­bly sim­i­lar num­bers of diplo­mats. Ex­act num­bers are dif­fi­cult to in­de­pen­dently ver­ify.

Sev­eral hours af­ter the U.S. an­nounce­ment, new Rus­sian Am­bas­sador Ana­toly Antonov ar­rived in Washington to start his post­ing.

At the air­port, Antonov cited a maxim of for­mer Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin as he urged cau­tion and pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

“We don’t need hys­ter­i­cal im­pulses,” Rus­sian news agen­cies quoted Antonov as say­ing.

In as­sess­ing Washington’s direc­tive, Rus­sian of­fi­cials and law­mak­ers said Fri­day that U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump might be get­ting tough on Rus­sia against his will.

The new package of sanc­tions against Rus­sia that Congress adopted last month not only hits Rus­sia but is de­signed to “tie Trump’s hands, not let him use his con­sti­tu­tional pow­ers to the full to make for­eign pol­icy,” Lavrov said.

Na­tion­al­ist party leader Vladimir Zhiri­novsky, who pub­licly cheered Trump’s elec­tion, called the flurry of U.S. sanc­tions against Rus­sia “an ill­ness that will go away.”

“It’s an ill­ness be­cause (they) are not leav­ing Pres­i­dent Trump alone to run the coun­try and keep com­ing up with tricks to draw a wedge be­tween Amer­ica and Rus­sia,” Zhiri­novsky said in a video state­ment that did spec­ify who might be creating such ob­sta­cles for Trump.

AP PHOTO

Putin speaks at a meeting with stu­dents in Yaroslavl, Rus­sia. Rus­sia vowed Fri­day to re­spond to an or­der to shut the Rus­sian Con­sulate in San Francisco and of­fices in Washington and New York.

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