Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

US State Department: Actions against Russian consulate 'perfectly legal'

US State Department: Actions against Russian consulate 'perfectly legal'

Moscow is "prepared" to file a lawsuit "in order to return the diplomatic property that had been illegally seized", according a statement the Russian Foreign Ministry issued Wednesday.

The statement came following warnings by Russian officials of their intention to respond to the September shutdown of Russian diplomatic missions across the United States, including its consulate in the west coast city of San Francisco.

The chair of the State Duma Committee for International Relations says Russia could take additional reciprocal measures "at a legislative level" in reply to fresh sanctions and unlawful treatment of Russian diplomatic property in the US.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shake hands in the Treaty Room before heading into meetings at the State Department May 10, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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The state-run TASS news agency quoted an unnamed State Department official as saying that the flags were removed with due respect to state symbols and are safely stored inside each of the seized buildings.

The US State Department's protest notes on incident were also recorded.

Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova earlier told reporters that Russian flags had been "torn down" from the buildings of the general consulate in San Francisco and Russia's trade mission in Washington.

"We demand an immediate end to the takeover of our property in the USA which is accompanied by offensive actions", he added.

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US President Donald Trump initially pledged to improve ties, but those promises have been overshadowed by allegations of collusion between Russian Federation and members of Trump's election campaign.

In July, Moscow ordered the USA to cut the number of its diplomatic and technical staff working in Russian Federation by around 60 percent, to 455, part of a diplomatic row. Russian Federation called these actions unfriendly and pledged to sue the proper USA authorities over the situation.

The Russian Embassy in Washington has forwarded an official protest to the USA authorities with a demand to return Russian state symbols to their flag poles.

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