MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The US Embassy in Russia said Wednesday it would not attempt to predict further steps by Moscow on the possibility of reducing the number of US diplomatic staff in the country, but expressed hope that the downward spiral in bilateral relations had come to an end.
“We’re not going to try to guess what the Russian government may do in the future. As we have said, the United States hopes that, having moved toward the Russian Federation’s desire for parity, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides and move forward to achieve the stated goal of both of our presidents: improved relations between our two countries and increased cooperation on areas of mutual concern,”
embassy spokeswoman Maria Olsen told RIA Novosti.
Earlier in the day, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s North America Department Georgiy Borisenko told Sputnik that Russia was considering various ways to respond to the situation around Russian diplomatic property in the United States, including the possibility to demand real parity in the number of US and Russian diplomats, which means cutting the number of the US diplomatic mission employees in Russia to 300 people or less.
“It is in neither side’s interest for the US-Russia relationship to worsen. We hope the downward spiral we have found ourselves in has come to an end,”
In September, Washington demanded that Moscow shut down several of its diplomatic facilities in the United States, including the Consulate General in San Francisco. After Russian diplomats left the diplomatic compounds, US security agents entered the premises to perform searches. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that these actions were violating the Vienna convention on diplomatic and consular relations.
Washington actions came after Moscow cut the diplomatic presence of the United States to 455 people, the same number of diplomatic personnel that Russia had in the United States. According to the Russian officials, the measures were taken in response to anti-Russia policy of the United States and the newest package of the anti-Moscow sanctions, signed by US President Donald Trump in August.