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Moscow Slams US for Seizing Russian Diplomatic Property, Vows to Retaliate

© AFP 2023 / Josh EdelsonThe Russian flag flies at half mast at the Consulate-General of Russia in San Francisco, California (File)
The Russian flag flies at half mast at the Consulate-General of Russia in San Francisco, California (File) - Sputnik International
Moscow has voiced a "decisive protest" against the illegal seizure of Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States and says it reserves right to retaliate, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said.

The ministry called the US actions in relation to Russian diplomatic facilities an "unprecedented abuse of power" in bilateral relations, saying that Moscow had "never given US authorities the right to lift immunity from the Russian diplomatic and consular property and did not allow any intrusion into its facilities."

"Washington has committed a new gross violation of international law: since December last year, the Americans have already seized five Russian diplomatic facilities that are our property, and now the entrance doors have been hacked and a total search has been conducted inside," the ministry said in a statement.

"They are intruders. Their actions are an unprecedented act of injustice in the history of bilateral relations," the ministry stressed, saying that a residential section of the San Francisco Consulate General has been "seized" along with a separate residence of the Russian consul general.

The statement added that Moscow voices a protest against "another hostile action by the US," saying it reserves the right to respond to the US steps on the basis of reciprocity.

"Accordingly, we understand that the Americans, breaking into our foreign missions, actually accept the possibility of similar actions in relation to their missions in Russia," the statement said.

The news comes after the US Department of State has confirmed to Sputnik that it had carried out a walkthrough at Russia’s closed consulate general in San Francisco "to secure the residential portions of the buildings and confirm that all residents had left the premises." 

The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier on Monday that the US law enforcement agencies continued intruding in Russian diplomatic facilities across the country, releasing a video depicting US officers trespassing into Russia's diplomatic property in San Francisco.

After Russian diplomats left the diplomatic compounds, US security agents entered the premises to perform searches. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the United States' actions constituted a violation of international law, including the Vienna convention on diplomatic and consular relations.

On September 2, the United States shut down Russia's Consulate General in San Francisco and trade missions in New York City and in Washington, DC. US officials said the move was in response to Moscow's decision in late July to reduce the number of US diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, the same number of diplomatic personnel Russia has in the United States. In December 2016 the outgoing Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and suspended the use of diplomatic assets by Moscow.

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