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Russia Promises Strong, Measured Answer to US Order

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Russia is promising to answer a Trump administration order to close three Russian diplomatic offices in the United States.

But Russia also said it was not likely to take steps to increase diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

On Thursday, the administration ordered Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco and trade offices in New York City and Washington, D.C.

U.S. officials gave the Russians 48 hours to obey the order. They said the move was in reaction to a Russian demand that the U.S. sharply reduce the size of its diplomatic workforce in Russia.

'The United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted,' State Department official Heather Nauert said in a statement. She added that the U.S. hoped both countries could now move towards “improved relations” and “increased cooperation.”

Russia's Washington chancery annex on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017.The office will be closed in a tit-for-tat -- between the United States and Russia.
Russia's Washington chancery annex on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017.The office will be closed in a tit-for-tat -- between the United States and Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that his country would react with firmness to the U.S. order. He added that the Russian government needs time to study the directive and to decide a plan of action. Lavrov spoke in a meeting with students at Russia’s top diplomacy school.

Other Russian officials said both sides need to be careful.

Yuri Ushakov is the top foreign policy to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ushakov told Russian news agencies that the government “regrets” the latest U.S. move and needs to “think carefully about how we could respond.”

The U.S. announcement was the latest development in a diplomatic “tit-for-tat” between the two sides. The dispute began early last month when President Donald Trump signed into law a sanctions bill that Congress had passed. The measure was aimed at punishing the Russian government for interfering with the U.S. election last year.

The Russian government reacted quickly to the sanctions. It made the United States cut its embassy and consulate workforce in Russia down to 455.

In recent years, the two countries have had deep disagreements about Russian involvement in the 2016 elections, and other issues, such as Ukraine and Syria.

Under President Trump, relations have gotten worse. U.S. officials are still investigating whether Trump’s election campaign worked with Russia to get him elected.

I’m Anne Ball.

The Associated Press and VOANews.com reported on this story. Anne Ball adapted the reports for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and visit us on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

consulate – n. the building where a consul lives and works

respond – v. to say or write something as an answer to a question or request

tit-for-tat – n. to say or write something as an answer to a question or request

sanctions – n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc. — usually plural

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