"Of course, no agreement on the lifting of flags, the Russian side did not give" — said the official representative of the foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova at a press briefing Thursday, calling the withdrawal of the flag "hostile action".
Moscow regarded the incident as a "desecration of the state symbol of Russia," said Zakharov. According to her, Russia will take retaliatory action, but what they will be, the foreign Ministry has not yet decided. "Maybe doing this on purpose, deliberately to create an unfavorable background for the beginning of activity in Russia of a new U.S. Ambassador, Mr. [John] Huntsman," — said Zakharov. Earlier, a protest in connection with removal of the flags expressed at the Russian Embassy in the United States.
The U.S. state Department, commenting on the statement of the Russian Embassy, said that the flags when removing be careful. "Flags on the former consular facilities in San Francisco respectfully lowered, they are stored inside buildings", — quotes Agency Reuters review of state Department official.
The situation around the Russian diplomatic facilities was also commented by the Director of the Russian foreign intelligence Service (SVR) Sergei Naryshkin. "The service runs in the same mode and produces the necessary information", — Naryshkin said in response to the question of RIA of News that affected the situation in the work of the FIS in the United States.
In the Russian state Duma stated that because of the incident with the flags delayed the visit of the delegation of deputies to the USA. "The state Duma Council has decided to postpone the visit of the delegation of the state Duma in the US due to the fact that our diplomatic missions were removed the Russian flag," — said RIA Novosti in the apparatus of the state Duma, adding that they expect from the USA of explanations and apologies.
The conflict around buildings
Russian diplomats have left the building of the Consulate General in San Francisco, and sales offices in Washington in early September, after the United States ordered the closure of the mission in response to the limitation of the number of employees of the American Embassy in Russia.
As reported by correspondent Bi-bi-si, after the building left the diplomats, inside includes a few dozen police officers. The Russian side called the incident a search warrant, which was attended by intelligence agencies. The Russian Embassy in the United States called the space "occupied". Russian diplomatic workers to work in these areas is not permitted.
The U.S. state Department insisted that all actions on the territory of the Russian diplomatic property carried out in compliance with the Vienna Convention and bilateral agreements, and the FBI, contrary to the statements of the Russian side, these actions did not participate.
At the same time to expel Russian diplomats from the country, the U.S. government did not. As said state Department spokesman Heather Nauert, Russia retained the footprint of the building, but can't use them for diplomatic missions.
Day 2 October, the Russian foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of illegal entry into the residential part of the Consulate General of Russia in San Francisco, which was also closed at the request of us authorities in early September.
Moscow considers the actions of the US authorities as illegal and intends to prove it in court. On 10 October it became known that the Russian interests in this case will represent the American company White and Case, who previously represented the interests of Russia in the Yukos case.
At the end of July the President of Russia Vladimir Putin said that Moscow requires US to reduce the number of employees of its diplomatic missions in Russia more than two times — up to 455 people.
Requirements for U.S. diplomats were filed in response to a law providing for new sanctions against Russia. At the time the law was adopted: the President of the United States Donald trump signed it only on 2 August. After one month, August 28, Maria Zakharova said in an interview with TV channel "Rain" that the US itself decided to reduce the number of diplomatic missions in Russia.
Russian diplomats in the U.S. face a fine for the smoke on the Consulate
December 29, 2016 the outgoing President Barack Obama signed a decree on the introduction of new anti-Russian sanctions in connection with the alleged Moscow's intervention in the American elections.
The US state Department on the same day was declared persona non grata 35 Russian diplomats, having accused them that they had acted "not in accordance with their diplomatic or consular status." In addition, Washington said that close two Russian diplomatic villas in Maryland and new York.
21 August the U.S. Embassy in Russia announced that it was suspending the issuance of nonimmigrant visas. As explained in the Embassy, such measures are associated with reducing the number of employees of the diplomatic mission of the United States.
Another round in the diplomatic confrontation occurred on 11 October, when the Director of the Department of North America of the Russian foreign Ministry Georgy Borisenko said that Moscow could send another 150 American diplomats, guided by the "inviolable principle of reciprocity".