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

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Moscow has lodged a protest with Washington, accusing USA officials of tearing down Russian flags from two of its diplomatic missions in the country, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

U.S. State Department officials searched the Russian general consulate in San Francisco earlier this month after Russian diplomatic staff was forced to vacate the property on Washington's orders. "They touched our national symbols with their hands", Russia's Trade Representative to the United States Alexander Stadnik said. "Russian flags were torn off from buildings of the Russian trade mission in Washington and consulate general in San Francisco, earlier occupied by USA security services' agents", Zakharova said at a briefing.

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In an English-language statement on its Facebook page late on Wednesday, Russia's Foreign Ministry said it had sent a protest note "to the American side" against the removal of several Russian flags from the San Francisco property.

In late August, the United States ordered Russian Federation to close its consulate in San Francisco and two other installations as relations between the two former Cold War enemies took another dive.

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The MP noted that, when Russian Federation had told the United States to cut the numbers of its diplomatic mission's staff, it reserved the right for additional reciprocal measures. We perceive this as an "extremely unfriendly move, the statement said". "The flags at the former Russian consular properties in San Francisco were respectfully lowered and are safely stored within each of the buildings", he said obviously referring to the consulate general and the consul's residence in San Francisco.

The West slapped punishing sanctions on Russian Federation over its meddling in its ex-Soviet neighbour, sparking a revenge embargo from Moscow against agricultural products.

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Russian Federation considers such a move as an "extremely unfriendly step", and demands an immediate return of the flags, the embassy added.

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