"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," embassy's press secretary William Stevens told RIA Novosti.
The United States has decided to close the Russian honorary consulates in California, Utah, Minnesota, Florida and Puerto Rico and withdraw the accreditation of five respective consuls. Only the Russian honorary consulate in the US state of Colorado maintains its status.
"This does not affect Russia’s formal diplomatic operations, including its Embassy, Consulates General or its Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.," Stevens stressed.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow was indignant about Washington's decision to withdraw the accreditation of the honorary consuls. Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the decision to revoke the consuls' accreditation continued President Barack Obama's administration line on curtailing relations with Russia.
Relations between Russia and the United States deteriorated in 2014 amid the Ukrainian crisis. Washington and its allies accused Moscow of fueling the conflict and introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia. Moscow has consistently denied the allegations.