0519 GMT November 19, 2019
The statement comes after the Russian Consulate in San Francisco and two trade missions in Washington, DC, and NYC were forced to close at the end of August, RT wrote.
Russian authorities, Lavrov said, asked the Americans to make sure the overall number of their diplomatic staff working in Russia equals that of the number of Russian diplomats working in the US.
“But in doing so, we included into that overall number everyone who work at the Russian mission in the UN,” Lavrov told reporters at a press conference in Amman, Jordan, on Monday.
“Understandably, this is a separate issue not relating to bilateral [US-Russia] relations.
“Nevertheless, in doing so we showed our good will,” he continued. “The US has sort of pocketed our kind gesture and said, ‘If Russians want parity, make them close one of four consulates [in the US] as we have only three consulates in Russia.’”
The US State Department insisted that the move was reciprocal to Moscow’s decision to cut the number of American diplomatic staff in Russia.
Lavrov added that Moscow is now looking at conditions under which the American diplomatic missions operate in Russia, and vice versa.
If the US makes parity a criterion, we will bring those conditions in full accordance with what is called parity,” Lavrov said.
In July, following the US Congress’ approval of new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea in one package, Moscow cut the staff at American missions in Russia by 755 people. This brought the number to the equivalent of Russian diplomatic staff in the US, which is 455 people.
In August, Washington announced in response that US consulates in Russia had halted issuing all non-immigrant visas for Russian citizens until further notice.
On August 31, the Trump administration cited, “the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians,” and ordered the Russian Consulate in San Francisco, as well as two trade missions in Washington, DC, and New York City, to close. Moreover, FBI operatives conducted searches at Russia’s San Francisco Consulate.
The Russian Foreign Ministry vehemently opposed the closures, accusing operatives of the US security agencies that entered the Russian Consulate in San Francisco of “behaving like raiders.”