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Russia formally protests seizure of U.S. facilities

August 17, 2018

Russia has filed a formal complaint with the Trump administration in response to U.S. authorities seizing several of its diplomatic missions and consulates, including facilities in four states and D.C., Moscow said Friday.

“In the face of the United States of America’s continuing gross violation of the norms of international law with regard to the Russian Federation’s diplomatic missions and consular institutions in U.S. territory, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has lodged a strong protest with the US Department of State by sending an appropriate note through diplomatic channels,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“When Russian consular and diplomatic facilities in the U.S. were closed, the U.S. government took great care to respect the dignity of the persons and properties involved and to follow all of our legal obligations, including under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, our bilateral convention with Russia, and the Foreign Missions Act,” a State Department official told The Washington Times. “We are confident that all of our actions were lawful,” the official added prior to declining to comment further on diplomatic communications.

Starting near the end of the Obama administration in late 2016, the State Department has taken control of Russian compounds from coast to coast in response to a malicious activities attributed to Moscow, ranging from the alleged state-sponsored interference campaign waged against the 2016 U.S. presidential race to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former spy nearly killed by a Russia nerve agent, according to intelligence officials.

The Obama administration shuttered Russian facilities in New York and Maryland weeks before President Trump took office, and the current administration subsequently ordered Moscow to vacate buildings in D.C., New York City, San Francisco and Seattle, most recently closing the latter’s Russian consulate following Mr. Skripal’s poisoning in March.

Russian President Vladimir Putin previously said he would ask his government to litigate the seizures in U.S. court, saying: “Let us see how effectively the vaunted U.S. judicial system works.”

Moscow raised the issue with the United Nations General Assembly, the Foreign Ministry said Friday. Russia has previously retaliated by expelling dozens of U.S. diplomats and shuttering the U.S. consulate general in St. Petersburg.

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