Russia’s Embassy in the US has strongly condemned the removal of Russian flags from diplomatic properties in San Francisco seized by US authorities, and has demanded that the state symbols be returned.
The Russian Mission to the US released photos of the closed diplomatic facilities without Russian state flags Wednesday.
“A strong objection was sent to the American side in the wake of the removal of Russian flags from the diplomatic property in San Francisco, controlled by the US authorities. We perceive it as an extremely unfriendly move. We demand [the US] immediately returns the Russian state symbols to their place and prevents such incidents in the future,” the embassy said in a statement on Facebook.
“Yet another one disgraceful event. Flags have been stolen from the buildings in San Francisco. We urge the US authorities to return our state symbols,” the embassy added in a Twitter post.
— Пос-во России в США (@RussiaInUSA) October 11, 2017
The removal of the flags is the latest twist in the ongoing diplomatic row between Russia and the US.
Earlier this week, Moscow demanded that the US returns the “illegally seized” diplomatic buildings. “Russia reserves the right to undertake legal action and retaliatory measures,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday after FM Sergey Lavrov held phone talks with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson.
The diplomatic spat between Moscow and Washington dates back to late 2016, when on New Year’s Eve, the outgoing Obama administration expelled 35 Russian embassy staff and closed two Russian diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland.
Russia did not immediately retaliate as the new Trump administration was assuming office.
The downward trend in US-Russia relations, however, persisted. In the summer of 2017, Washington slapped a new round of sanctions on Moscow.
The aggressive move prompted Moscow to force Washington to axe over 700 staff in Russia. The cuts to American and local diplomatic posts brought the number of US diplomatic staff to the same number that Russia has in the United States. The US took new hostile action early in September, shutting the Russian Consulate-General in San Francisco as well as the trade missions in Washington and New York.