MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Russian Kommersant newspaper reported on Friday citing diplomatic sources that the US authorities consider asking Russia to shut down one of its consulates general in the United States. Russia currently has four consulates general in the country, while there are three US consulates in Russia.
"If you will be told that the parity had been violated many years ago, and now it is time to restore it and curb Russia's unfriendly actions, it is all an absolute bluff for those who do not know the essence of the issue. The essence is that many years ago, the United States was offered to set up the forth consulate general in Russia, but it refused to. All the questions on the issue must be posed to them. So the speculations on this issue will not pass," Zakharova said during a TV show at Rossiya 1 channel late on Sunday.
Zakharova added that the "disbalance emerged not because of Russia’s will."
"After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the very consulate general which had allowed for the parity between Russia and the United States, was on Ukraine’s territory. Moscow offered Washington to open an additional fourth consulate general in Russia to support this parity. Washington decided it was not necessary," the diplomat pointed out.
Russia's retaliatory measures regarding US diplomatic corps and property have not undermined bilateral cooperation, since it has already been hindered by the United States several years ago, Zakharova added.
"Considering the fact that [the United States] has not made any positive changes [regarding the issue of Russia's diplomatic presence in the United States], consequently we took retaliatory measures. But it has not hit and would not hit bilateral cooperation and collaboration, because the collaboration and cooperation have been undermined by the United States several years ago," Zakharova said during a TV show at Rossiya 1 channel late on Sunday.
The US-Russian tensions around the diplomatic presence have been high recently. In late July, the Russian Foreign Ministry offered Washington to reduce the number of the US diplomatic and technical staff working in the country to 455 by September 1. According to the ministry, this number is commensurate with the current number of Russian diplomats in the United States after the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the country in December 2016. The expulsion of the Russian diplomatic workers was held carried out over Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election, denied by Russia.