Employees of the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg are to leave Russia on April 5 after Russia decided to expel US diplomats in return to an earlier move that the US made in connection with the Skripal case.
Diplomats of 20 EU countries, as well as diplomats of Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, Norway, Australia and Canada will have to leave Russia for the same reason by April 6.
The West may continue the diplomatic and the economic war against Russia, and US officials have already warned of such an intention. For example, the UK considers closing the Russian trade mission in London, freezing Russian state assets, banning investments in Russian securities and arresting "suspicious property" of wealthy Russian individuals.
Yet, the expulsion of diplomats designates that the window for a dialogue is closing. At the same time, the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats from the US does not mean their jobs will be closed - new Russian diplomats will arrive instead.
In separate cases, Russia may announce a reduction in the number of representatives of a foreign state, as it was done in the summer of 2017. This would be the move that would trigger consequences as the opposite side would do the same. After all, someone needs to support diplomatic buildings, conduct consular work, etc. Russia cut the number of US diplomatic officers for parity, because US diplomats used to outnumber Russian diplomats in the USA.
The Americans may close the Russian consulate in Houston (Texas), or in New York.
New York is a more preferable option, because Washington (where the embassy is situated) is not very far away. If they close the Russian consulate in Houston, then Russian diplomatic officers would remain only on the East coast of the USA, without representative offices either in the inland America or on the West Coast (the consulate in San Francisco was closed).
In the event of the termination of relations with the United States, Russia will find itself in a more profitable position, because Russia would keep the UN mission in the USA, whereas there will be no American officials left in the Russian Federation.
In addition, under the Vienna Convention of 1961-1963, the closure of an embassy does not stipulate for the termination of consular activity. Countries can still trade without diplomatic relations. For example, the official breach between Russia and Ukraine de jure does not imply the termination of contracts between Gazprom and Naftogaz. The interests of each of the companies are delegated to a third party.
During the Second World War, the interests of the USSR in Germany and the interests of Germany in the USSR used to be represented by Sweden, whereas American interests in Italy and Germany and vice versa used to be represented by Switzerland.
To crown it all, emergency communication channels ("hot lines" and direct telephone conversations between presidents) do not depend on either the presence or absence of diplomatic relations. They function constantly.
Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru