Already furious over Washington's "unprecedented aggressive action," at the Russian consulate in San Francisco, Moscow has responded with an official statement calling the "occupation" of diplomatic properties in the US a "blunt act of hostility."
As a reminder, Russian diplomats were denied access to the trade mission building despite it being owned by Russia and protected by diplomatic immunity.
The ministry called the planned “illegal inspection” of Russian diplomatic housing an “unprecedented aggressive action”, which could be used by the U.S. special services for “anti-Russian provocations” by the way of “planting compromised items”.
Searches of the Russian premises began on Saturday, after the US State Department ordered the foreign ministry on August 31 to vacate the premises by September 2.
The FBI arrived in at least two vehicles to search the San Francisco Consulate. The minute the deadline expired, agents entered the Russian-owned diplomatic property, which in 2016 alone issued more than 16,000 tourist visas to American citizens.
Russian diplomats have posted photo and video evidence of the searches, which they call a “travesty of justice.”
“We regard the incident as a blunt act of hostility, a gross violation of international law by Washington, including the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic and consular relations,”
The ministry called upon the US “to come to their senses and immediately return Russian diplomatic compounds.”
“Otherwise, the US will be responsible for the continuing degradation of relations between our countries, which largely affect global stability and international security,” the statement continued.
The Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations forms the basis for diplomatic immunity and defines the framework of relation between countries.
It states that the premises of [any] mission “shall be inviolable” and the “agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.”
Moscow pointed out that all seized properties in New York, Washington, and San Francisco have diplomatic immunity. “The US special services supported by armed police are now ‘hosting’ the occupied buildings,” the statement added.
“The US State Department is violating the Vienna Convention; this creates a bad precedent to international diplomacy,” Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos, who served as a Greek ambassador in Canada in 2000-2004, told RT.
“I can’t see the reason why it is happening. The relations between the US and Russia are not bad. Some people in the US are trying to make [these relations] bad.”
Perhaps that was the goal all along?