Russia Protests Over 'Stolen' Flags At Former US Consulate, Prompting US Denial

Russia set to reduce US diplomatic staff in Moscow from 455 to 300

Russia set to reduce US diplomatic staff in Moscow from 455 to 300

In September, US authorities ordered the closure of three Russian consular offices, including the consular office in San Francisco and launched major searches in the buildings once they were vacated.

People walk past the Consulate-General of Russian Federation in San Francisco, California on December 29, 2016.

"We consider this incident as a desecration of the Russian state symbols", the ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a news briefing.

Russia's embassy in the United States said earlier it had lodged a protest to the U.S. side over removal of flags from the seized Russian diplomatic facilities in San Francisco and demanded the flags be immediately placed back.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has once again expressed its indignation at how the U.S. authorities handle Russian diplomatic facilities that had been closed in the United States in response to Russia's move to expel American diplomats from Russia.

In an interview on state television, Russia's new Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov called the taking down of the flags "upsetting".

"The removal of the Russian flags from the Russian diplomatic facilities in the US is yet another destructive step in the diplomatic war that was unleashed by the administration of the previous US President, Barack Obama".

The Russian Mission to the U.S. released photos of the closed diplomatic facility without Russian state flags on Wednesday.

"Russia demands an immediate return of the flags, the embassy added".

"A strong protest was sent to the American side in relation to Russian flags being torn down at our diplomatic properties in San Francisco, which are under the control of US authorities", Russian news agencies quoted the embassy as saying in a statement. "The flag at the former Russian Washington, DC property was also taken down and is safely stored within the building".

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