Russian Federation protests against removal of flags from diplomatic properties in US

Russian Federation protests against removal of flags from diplomatic properties in US

"Sergey Lavrov said about the unacceptability of steps taken by the USA authorities that had ordered to remove the Russian national flags from the earlier seized diplomatic facilities and reiterated Moscow's line to prepare lawsuits in order to return the diplomatic property that had been illegally seized", the ministry's statement said.

The development came two days after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his American counterpart, Rex Tillerson, that the Russian diplomatic properties had been "illegally seized" by the United States government, demanding their return to Moscow's embassy in Washington.

"The flags of the former Russian consular properties in San Francisco were respectfully lowered".

"Our actions when it comes to those facilities we believe is perfectly legal", Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman, told reporters.

Russian Federation has drastically scaled down the USA diplomatic staff in Russian Federation to 455 people and seized a U.S. dacha and a warehouse in Moscow in retaliation to Washington's actions.

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Lavrov said the "arbitrary action by United States officials directly contradicts Washington's statements... about its intentions to normalise bilateral relations which have fallen to an unprecedented level", a Russian foreign ministry statement said. The demand followed a vote to tighten sanctions on Russian Federation.

The state-run TASS news agency quoted an unnamed State Department official as saying that the flags were removed with due respect to state symbols and are safely stored inside each of the seized buildings. Moscow also demanded that the United States cut the numbers of its diplomatic and technical staff to 455 people - the number of Russian personnel at U.S. diplomatic missions and in the UN headquarters in the New York City.

The situation was supposed to improve when US President Donald Trump was sworn into office on January 20, but bilateral relations have not improved to the extent some had hoped they would.

"Such steps only complicate US-Russian dialogue", Antonov said in televised remarks.

Following the loss of jobs for some Americans - and many Russians - who had been working at those facilities, the United States retaliated September 2 by closing the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco as well as Moscow's trade missions in Washington, DC and NY.