US strips accreditation of 5 Russian honorary consuls
23 Jan 2016 - 0:00
Washington: Washington has stripped five Russian honorary consuls of their accreditation in response to the harassment of its own staff in Russia, the State Department said Friday.
"We are prepared to take further appropriate measures if there are additional efforts to impede our diplomatic and consular activities in Russia," spokesman Mark Toner warned.
Russia's foreign ministry expressed outrage at the move against the consuls -- US nationals who represent Moscow in California, Utah, Minnesota, Florida and Puerto Rico.
Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused US "security services" of carrying out "provocations against employees of Russian diplomatic missions, and not only in the United States."
"The decision on the honorary consuls continues the Barack Obama administration's policy aimed at curbing ties with our country," she alleged, in a statement.
The State Department said formal diplomatic relations would not be hurt by Washington's tit-for-tat move, which it said followed similar action by Moscow against US interests.
"This action is being taken in response to continued Russian interference with our diplomatic and consular operations in Russia, including, but not limited to, widespread harassment of our personnel, as well as the forced closure of the American Center in Moscow and 28 American Spaces throughout Russia," Toner said.
"This does not affect Russia's formal diplomatic operations, including its Embassy, Consulates General or its Cultural Center in Washington DC," he added.