Russia May Demand US Cut Diplomatic Staff

Russia May Demand US Cut Diplomatic Staff

She said Moscow regards the incident as an outrage against Russia's state symbol, adding that Moscow has already "expressed a strong protest to the United States". "This was done by the people who invaded the Russian territory without an invitation, broke the gates, the entrance doors, and have been doing there what they want since then not even like raiders, but rather like occupants", Zakharova said.

She said Russian flags "had been torn off the buildings of Russia's trade mission in Washington and the general consulate in San Francisco", she said, Russian news agencies reported.

"I really do not rule out a scenario in which Russia, in reply to the U.S. law tightening the anti-Russian sanctions and absolutely unlawful actions targeting our diplomatic property, apart from all measures taken on the diplomatic level could develop a special draft law", TASS quoted Leonid Slutsky as saying on Thursday.

Zakharova also said that in accordance with an instruction given by President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Foreign Ministry was in the process of selecting a legal firm to start a court proceeding over the seizure of diplomatic properties. "Of course, the Russian Federation has not given any consent for the flags to be removed", Zakharova said.

"We consider this as an extremely unfriendly step", the embassy said. Chairman of Russia's State Duma (lower house) International Affairs Committee, Leonid Slutsky, has described the removal of the Russian flags from the Consulate General in San Francisco and the trade mission in Washington as a provocation.

Earlier, Russia's envoy to Washington, Mr Anatoly Antonov, said he had sent a "decisive protest" to the United States over the removed flags. According to State Department representatives, the flags were lowered with due respect to be kept safely in the building.

These facilities have been actually taken under control of the Diplomatic Security Service, a law enforcement and security arm of the US Department of State.

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