The US ordered Russia to shut down three of its diplomatic missions in the country, following Russia’s expulsion of hundreds of US diplomats.

Lavrov (left) and Tillerson (right)

Lavrov (left) and Tillerson (right) Photo credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

Today (Thursday), US President Donald Trump’s administration ordered Russia to close one consulate and two diplomatic annexes in response to Russia’s expulsion of US diplomats from Moscow.

It is still unclear how many Russian employees will be affected. Each country will now host three consulates of the other. The instruction was given by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov over the phone, who expressed regret over the ‘escalation of tensions’. The two are expected to meet at the UN General Assembly in New York next month.

Russia’s decision to expel US diplomats was a response to the US sanctions approved by Congress, which Moscow claimed to be illegal. Although Trump approved the sanctions, he did so unwillingly and blamed Congress for undermining relations with Russia.