Russia to Expel U.S. Diplomats, Close St. Petersburg Consulate

MOSCOW (The Washington Post) -
Russia diplomats
The U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File)

Russia will close the American consulate in St. Petersburg and kick out diplomats in response to Monday’s coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomats from the United States and a number of European countries, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

The move continues an ongoing escalation of tit-for-tat between Moscow and the West that began in early March with the alleged poisoning of a former Russian double agent on British soil with an Soviet-designed nerve agent.

Lavrov said that U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman has been asked to appear at the Foreign Ministry “where my deputy minister Sergei Ryabkov will lay out for him the content of these retaliatory measures against the United States,” he said.

Lavrov did not specify the number of U.S. diplomats to be expelled, but said it would be “a similar amount” and includes the closure of the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg. The U.S. operates other consulates in Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok; they were untouched.