The US government’s decision to close the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco will complicate the citizen-to-citizen diplomacy between Russia and the United States, said Natasha Venzon, who heads the Rossinca cultural and educational center in San Jose, California.

“‘Cultural Understanding + Sharing = Peace,’ is our commitment to building bridges among our peoples and nations and this mission would seem to be more timely now than perhaps ever before,” said Venzon, whose center educates children from Russian-language families living in the Silicon Valley area.

“The Russian Consulate, and its core of dedicated diplomats, have been true partners in enabling our communities, at home and abroad, to celebrate the tremendous traditions and beauty of the Russian-language cultures we treasure and share.”

She said that the US move was “only the latest challenge to our dreams for citizen to citizen diplomacy, especially among our youngest and most natural diplomats, our children.”

“When the tasks of diplomacy become more difficult, we simply have to rise to the challenge by working harder and smarter, because peace is worth it,” Venzon added. “Rossinca is apolitical. We are, however, passionate in our mission to bridge cultures and show our children a future they can embrace with optimism.”

Earlier on Thursday, the US issued a demand to the Russian government to close down the Consulate General in San Francisco and another two diplomatic facilities, one in Washington and one in New York, saying the move was aimed at restoring parity in diplomatic relations with Russia.

A senior US administration official told a news briefing for reporters by telephone the decision implied the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco and the trade missions in Washington and New York. She said along with it the US did not demand that the Russian staff employed at these legations be sent off home.

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