The US deputy chief of mission in Moscow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry and given a note of protest over American authorities launching a search operation in the Trade Representation of the Russian Federation in Washington. The Foreign Ministry note on Saturday vehemently protested what it called an “illegitimate search without the presence of Russian officials” and deemed it as an unprecedented, aggressive “threat to break the front door”, reports CNN.
The note also said that “US Special Services” could use this action to organise an anti-Russian provocation by planting “compromising objects”. “The US authorities must stop the gross violations of international law and breaching the immunity of Russia’s diplomatic institutions. Otherwise, we reserve the right to reciprocate on mutual basis,” the note said.
The State Department announced on Thursday that it would close the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco as well as annexes in Washington and New York in response to forced staff cuts at the American mission in Russia, reports CNN. The department denied the accusations by the Russian government, including that US officials threatened to break down doors.
Russia has complied with the order to vacate the three facilities. The department has allowed families living in the consulate “sufficient time to pack and move”. Alexander Stadnik, Russia’s trade representative in Washington, told the media on Saturday that all Russians have left the city’s trade annex and documents were moved to the Russian Embassy.
A senior aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin called Washington’s decision a “raider takeover” designed to escalate tensions with Russia. “These new steps push the bilateral relations further into a deadlock,” Yuri Ushakov told Russian state media late Friday. The plan to close the three diplomatic facilities abruptly marks the latest in a series of tense diplomatic exchanges between the two nations, following US allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.