Moscow will bring the terms of work of its diplomatic missions in the US and those of Washington in Russia into “full parity,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced. 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.
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, 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.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin also spoke of disparity between Russia and the US in the number of their diplomatic staff.
“We have agreed with our [American] partners that there should be parity of the number of diplomatic staff in Russia and the United States. There were some 1,300 diplomats from the US; we had 455. We corrected this,” Putin told journalists last Tuesday.
“But among those 455 diplomatic staff working in the United States there are 155 people working at the United Nations. Strictly speaking, they are not part of the diplomatic corps accredited by the US State Department,” he added.
“So true parity would be the US not having 455 diplomats in Russia, but 155 fewer.”