WASHINGTON — The United States is defending the legality of its move to shutter Russian diplomatic facilities in San Francisco, New York and Washington after Moscow said it would sue.

A senior State Department official says the U.S. won’t speculate on whether Russia will retaliate. But the official says under international law, countries can only establish diplomatic posts when the host country consents. The official says the U.S. has withdrawn consent for Russia’s San Francisco post.

The State Department circulated a statement from the official to reporters on condition of anonymity.

The defense comes after President Vladimir Putin said Russia’s Foreign Ministry would sue the U.S. over the move. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (sir-GAY’ lahv-RAWF’) discussed the issue with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a phone call Tuesday.

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