Smoke in San Francisco Russian consulate hours before closure

Black smoke was seen billowing out of a chimney at the Russian consulate in San Francisco, just hours ahead of its closure, the media reported.

A Russian official told CNN on Friday night: “No need to worry. They are not electing a Pope.”

In response to enforced staff cuts at the US mission in Russia, the State Department announced on Thursday that it would require Moscow to close the San Francisco Consulate General, as well as annexes in Washington D.C. and New York.

“Russia will no longer be permitted to use these facilities for diplomatic, consular or residential purposes,” a State Department official told CNN earlier on Friday.

“Public operations at the consulate in San Francisco must cease by September 2. The facilities will be closed and entry or access to the properties will be granted only with permission of the Department of State. The State Department will secure and maintain the properties in keeping with our responsibilities.”

The San Francisco Fire Department posted on social media about the incident, tweeting that “everything is okay”.

The abrupt facility closure is just the latest in a series of tense diplomatic moves between the two nations, following reports of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 American presidential election, reports CNN.

The decision to close the facilities was made by President Donald Trump.

The move followed Russia reducing the size of the US mission in the country.

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