MOSCOW - Russia wrestled Friday with how to respond to the United States' order to shut its San Francisco consulate and trade offices in Washington and New York without going overboard and aggravating the already tense situation.

Russia needs to "think carefully about how we could respond," to one of the thorniest diplomatic confrontations between Washington and Moscow in decades, said President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov.

"One does not want to go into a frenzy, because someone has to be reasonable and stop," Ushakov added.

The United States says it may resume conducting limited interviews at its three Russia consulates for people seeking U.S. visas.

The U.S. had temporarily suspended non-immigrant visa processing in Russia after Moscow ordered it to cut its diplomatic staff to 455. The U.S. said it had to let go of consular officials who process visas to comply.

At the time, the U.S. also said it would start doing visa interviews only at the Embassy in Moscow and no longer at the consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

But a diplomatic cable sent to U.S. overseas posts and obtained by The Associated Press said "limited visa services" are resuming Friday.

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The cable says the State Department will assess its new, smaller operation to determine whether it can resume some interviews at the consulates.

The Trump administration said the Thursday order was in retaliation for the Kremlin's "unwarranted and detrimental" demand last month that the U.S. substantially reduce the size of its diplomatic staff in Russia.

For its part, Russia justified its call for cuts to U.S. embassy and consular personnel that took effect Friday as a reaction to new sanctions the U.S. congress approved in July.

The U.S. gave Russia 48 hours, or until Saturday, to comply with the order for the San Francisco consulate and the East Coast offices. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that Moscow would reply with firmness, but needs time to study Washington's directive and to decide on a response.

"We will have a tough response to the things that come totally out of the blue to hurt us and are driven solely by the desire to spoil our relations with the United States," Lavrov said in a televised meeting with students at Russia's top diplomacy school.

The closures on both U.S. coasts marked perhaps the most drastic diplomatic measure by the United States against Russia since 1986, near the end of the Cold War, when the nuclear-armed powers expelled dozens of each other's diplomats.

American officials argued that Russia had no cause for retribution now, noting that Moscow's ordering of U.S. diplomatic cuts last month was premised on bringing the two countries' diplomatic presences into "parity."

Both countries now maintain three consulates in each other's territory and ostensibly similar numbers of diplomats. Exact numbers are difficult to independently verify.

Several hours after the U.S. announcement, new Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov arrived in Washington to start his posting.

At the airport, Antonov cited a maxim of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin as he urged caution and professionalism.

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"We don't need hysterical impulses," Russian news agencies quoted Antonov as saying.

In assessing Washington's order, Russian officials and lawmakers said Friday that U.S. President Donald Trump might be getting tough on Russia against his will.

The new package of sanctions against Russia that Congress adopted last month not only hits Russia, but is designed to "tie Trump's hands, not let him use his constitutional powers to the full to make foreign policy," Lavrov said.

Nationalist party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who publicly cheered Trump's election, called the flurry of U.S. sanctions against Russia "an illness that will go away."

"It's an illness because (they) are not leaving President Trump alone to run the country and keep coming up with tricks to draw a wedge between America and Russia," Zhirinovsky said in a video statement that did not specify who might be creating such obstacles for Trump.

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Under by the Trump administration order, the Russians must close their consulate in San Francisco and an official residence there. Russia is being allowed to keep its New York consulate and Washington embassy, but trade missions housed in satellite offices in both of those cities must shut down, a senior Trump administration official said. The official briefed reporters on a conference call on condition of anonymity.

American counterintelligence officials have long kept a watchful eye on Russia's outpost in San Francisco, concerned that people posted to the consulate as diplomats were engaged in espionage. The U.S. late last year kicked out several Russians posted there, calling it a response to election interference.

The forced closures are the latest in an intensifying exchange of diplomatic broadsides.

In December, President Barack Obama kicked out dozens of Russian officials, closed two Russian recreational compounds. Russian President Vladimir Putin withheld from retaliating. The next month, Trump took office after campaigning on promises to improve U.S.-Russia ties.

But earlier this month, Trump begrudgingly signed into law stepped-up sanctions on Russia that Congress pushed to prevent him from easing up on Moscow. The Kremlin retaliated by telling the U.S. to cut its embassy and consulate staff down to 455 personnel, from a level hundreds higher.

The U.S. never confirmed how many diplomatic staff it had in the country at the time. As of Thursday, the U.S. has complied with the order to reduce staff to 455, officials said.

The reductions are having consequences for Russia. The U.S. last month temporarily suspended non-immigrant visa processing for Russians seeking to visit the United States and resumed it on Friday at a "much-reduced rate." The U.S. will process visas only at the embassy in Moscow, meaning Russians can no longer apply at U.S. consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

Even before the cuts at the U.S. mission were announced, typical waiting time for visa applicants in Russia to be interviewed was longer than a month.

Nadezhda Sianule planned to attend her daughter's wedding in the United States in mid-September and got an appointment in July to be interviewed on Thursday. Now these plans are in disarray.

"I came yesterday and they said that I'm not on the list. They said that the old lists have been canceled," Sianule said outside the U.S. Embassy Friday morning.

Despite the exchange of reprisals, there have been narrow signs of U.S.-Russian cooperation that have transcended the worsening ties. In July, Trump and Putin signed off on a deal with Jordan for a cease-fire in southwest Syria. The U.S. says the truce has largely held.