Moscow warns it will retaliate after US officials accused of 'hostile act'

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova speaks during a news conference at United Nations headquarters, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017 in this file image.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova speaks during a news conference at United Nations headquarters, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017 in this file image. Source: AAP

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

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

"Yesterday we learnt about a new ... hostile act of the US authorities against our diplomatic missions," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters on Thursday, warning that Moscow would retaliate.

She said Russian flags "had been torn off the buildings of Russia's trade mission in Washington and the general consulate in San Francisco," she said, Russian news agencies reported.

"Obviously the Russian side has never agreed to its flags being removed," she added, calling the removal "a violation of a Russian state symbol."

"The Russian side will decide on retaliatory measures," Zakharova said.

Earlier Russia's envoy to Washington Anatoly Antonov said he had sent a "decisive protest" to the US over the removed flags.

Dog lover Putin gets top breed pup as gift from Turkmen leader
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"Such steps only complicate US-Russian dialogue," he said in televised remarks.

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

Moscow had previously accused the United States of searching its missions and diplomatic staff's accommodation.

Washington ordered the shutdown of the Russian diplomatic missions in a retaliatory move after the Kremlin demanded the US slash staff numbers at its missions in Russia.

The latest diplomatic spat is the latest twist in tortured ties between the US and Russia, which have slumped to their lowest point since the Cold War following the Kremlin's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

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

 

Source: AFP - SBS Wires