Russian Federation to demand U.S. to reduce diplomatic personnel to 300 or below

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks at a news conference at the Russian Embassy in Washington. Reuters file

In July, Moscow wanted 455 to reduce number of diplomatic and technical personnel working in Russian Federation to United States after tension of relations between two countries, 60 per cent.

She said that agents of USA special services removed Russian flags from the Russian trade mission in Washington and the Consulate General in San Francisco, which were seized by the US authorities in September in a series of tit-for-tat actions that form part of the spat between the two countries.

She said that by breaking into the Russian diplomatic properties, the USA special services showed that they were ready for Moscow to act in a similar manner.

"The State Duma expresses its full solidarity with the stance of our Embassy in Washington and the Russian Foreign Ministry who lodged a strong protest with the American side", Slutsky stressed. "Of course, the Russian Federation has not given any consent for the flags to be removed", Zakharova said. The US set a deadline of October 1 for diplomats from the consulate general in San Francisco to pack their belongings.

Washington ordered Moscow to vacate the consulate and Russian trade annexes in Washington and NY at the beginning of September, steps meant to produce parity in the sizes of the Russian and USA diplomatic missions.

Zakharova said that by such actions, some United States political forces were deliberately destroying relations with Russian Federation.

The U.S. State Department denied that the flags were stolen.

"We demand an immediate end to the takeover of our property in the U.S., which is accompanied by offensive actions", Mr Antonov added. According to State Department representatives, the flags were lowered with due respect to be kept safely in the building.

"We consider such a move as an extremely unfriendly step", the post, which was accompanied by photos of the former consulate building stripped of flags, said. Nonetheless, they are still Russia's state property, except the trade mission's office in New York City leased by Moscow.



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