Russia May Demand US Cut Diplomatic Staff

Sergi Lavrov and Rex Tillerson

"Washington deliberately destroys relations with Moscow", the Russian Foreign Ministry stated on Thursday.

She said Moscow regards the incident as an outrage against Russia's state symbol, adding that Moscow has already "expressed a strong protest to the United States".

Russian flags were removed from the Russian consulate general in San Francisco by USA authorities, a State Department official said.

In an interview on state television, Russia's new Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov called the taking down of the flags "upsetting". "We hope that this negative course of relations has reached an end", he explained.

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

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

Russia's Foreign Ministry has issued a statement of protest after American authorities reportedly took down several Russian flags from a seized consulate in San Francisco. We perceive this as an "extremely unfriendly move, the statement said".

The Russian Embassy in Washington has forwarded an official protest to the U.S. authorities with a demand to return Russian state symbols to their flag poles.

He stressed that it had been done with due respect to the Russian national symbols. On Wednesday this week they removed Russian flags from the roofs of the San Francisco consular office and the office of the Russian Trade Representative in Washington, DC.

In late August, the United States ordered Russian Federation to close its consulate in San Francisco and two other installations as relations between the two former Cold War enemies took another dive. "The flag at the former Russian Washington, DC property was also taken down and is safely stored within the building".

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