Russian Federation calls on U.S. to return immediately seized diplomatic property

Trump administration orders three Russian diplomatic facilities in US closed

The department denied the accusations by the Russian government, including that U.S. officials threatened to break down doors. The Russian embassy had a fire alarm, NOT A FIRE.

Russian Federation calls on the USA authorities to return immediately the diplomatic property (buildings of the Consulate General in San Francisco, trade representations in Washington and New York), or Washington would bear the entire responsibility for further degradation of the relations, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday, TASS reported.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, said that US authorities had told Moscow that they expected Russian Federation to sell the facilities, TASS state news agency reported.

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The Foreign Ministry note on Saturday vehemently protested what it called an "illegitimate search without the presence of Russian officials" and deemed it as an unprecedented, aggressive "threat to break the front door", reports CNN.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova later wrote on Facebook that the consulate was engaged in the "emergency conservation" of the building, which it was given two days to complete ahead of an Federal Bureau of Investigation search on Saturday. In the video, a man in a tie knocks on several numbered doors and enters what appears to be apartment units, taking a quick glance inside before declaring everything in order.

On Saturday night, lights shined brightly on several floors of the consulate in San Francisco and some windows were wide open.

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The fire department responded to reports of a blaze after dark smoke was seen coming from the consulate, which was later determined to be coming from a chimney. Russian diplomats were working to vacate the properties over the weekend, including the six-story consulate. "To Russian representatives have been closed access also into the building of the Trade Representation's branch in NY". Softening the original order, the US said it had made "separate arrangements" to give families "sufficient time" to pack their belongings and vacate apartments on the consulate grounds.

When it became clear those measures would become law, Moscow ordered the United States to cut its diplomatic and technical staff in Russian Federation by more than half, to 455 people.

And it comes amid some of the broadest strains in their relationship ever since.

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The plan to close the three diplomatic facilities abruptly marks the latest in a series of tense diplomatic exchanges between the two nations, following U.S. allegations that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Investigations continue into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow.


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