The US authorities have been accused of threatening the “security” of Russian citizens and violating its diplomats’ immunity with a planned FBI search of the San Francisco consulate, according to Russia’s ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova.
The United States on Thursday ordered Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco as well as two annexes in Washington and New York, in a tit-for-tat response to Moscow’s forced reduction of US diplomatic staff in their country.
The State Department said the decision was made “in the spirit of parity,” adding that the closures needed to be completed by Saturday.
American special services intend on September 2 to carry out a search of the consulate in San Francisco including of the apartments of employees who live in the building and have immunity.
Zakharova said that the FBI had ordered diplomats to leave their accommodation for 10 to 12 hours with their families including young children and babies.
“We are talking about invasion into a consulate and the accommodation of diplomatic staff, what’s more they are being chucked out so that they don’t get in the way of the FBI agents,” Zakharova said.
“We express a resolute protest over Washington’s actions that ignore international law, and as is customary in diplomatic practice, we reserve the right to take retaliatory measures. That’s not our choice. They are forcing us into it,” she said.
Presidential aide Yury Ushakov was quoted on Friday as describing the latest US measures as “a kind of illegal takeover.” He added that the government will think how to respond.