SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — The Russian flag could still be seen billowing high atop the consulate in San Francisco, even though on ground Russian diplomats were carrying boxes out of the building after the Trump administration ordered the consulate to shut down. Saturday was the deadline for diplomats and their families to leave the building in Pacific Heights.
The Russians were ordered to vacate the consulate in San Francisco, as well as trade offices if Washington and New York.
“I think these two big governments should not play tit for tat with one another,” said Jean Halvorsen, a neighbor.
This was the oldest Russian consulate on American soil. The closure comes amid growing tensions between the US and Russia, but neighbors who came to check on the situation wonder if it’s anything more than empty saber rattling.
“It’s ridiculous that they’re so stuck in their corners of animosity when the world needs help,” said Halvorsen.
The skies above the consulate were clear Saturday, a dramatic difference from 24 hours earlier when thick, black smoke was seen rising from the chimney. Security analysts say it was a sign of sensitive documents being burned before the building was turned over.
Among its many functions, the consulate issued tourist visas for people looking to travel to Russia. It’s an important service that’s part of the larger fallout from the fraying US-Russia relationship.
“I don’t think it’s right,” said Kathy Wizowski, another neighbor. “It hurts people who need to travel and need to get their documents approved. They can’t go anywhere.”