Russia reduces parking spaces at US consulates

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to during a meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

(AP) — Russia has withdrawn parking privileges for U.S. diplomats, an apparent continuation of a diplomatic tit-for-tat between Washington and Moscow.

State-owned television channel Rossiya 24 reported on Wednesday that parking spaces outside the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg had been painted over with a pedestrian crossing, and special parking signs had been removed outside the U.S. consulate in Yekaterinburg, near the Ural Mountains.

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Diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and Russia are at their lowest level since the Cold War and have been marred in recent months by a series of expulsions of diplomats and closures of diplomatic missions.

Maria Olson, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, declined to comment on the loss of parking spaces.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that Russia would reduce U.S. diplomatic missions to “full parity” with their Russian counterparts on U.S. territory. As well as canceling parking privileges, Russian media has reported that U.S. diplomatic missions could be hit with staff reductions and fewer approved diplomatic entry points.

The U.S. ordered Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco and two annexes in Washington and New York on Aug. 31 in response to an order from Moscow to reduce the U.S. diplomatic presence in Russia by 755 staff members. Those actions followed the U.S seizure of Russian compounds in Maryland and New York and the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats in retaliation for Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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