Russia’s Foreign Ministry has reported that US security services including the FBI intend to search and possibly strip the facilities at the Russian Consulate in San Francisco as well as the residences of Russian diplomats living in the US.
The statement accuses the United States of a gross violation of the Vienna Convention which defines the property of foreign embassies and missions abroad as the sovereign territory of the nation whose embassy is on the property.
The current US actions demonstrate an atmosphere of hostility against Russia that is if anything elevated from that which transpired under Barack Obama.
Below is the statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry in full:
“On August 31, US authorities announced unprecedented measures to restrict the activities of Russian diplomatic and consular missions in the United States . We were asked to close one of the largest general consulates in San Francisco and shut down visa, notarial and other consular services to Russian and US citizens living in several densely populated states for two days. The US has also prescribed to immediately cessation of the activities of the Trade Mission in Washington and its branch in New York. The requirements for the movement of Russian diplomats and official delegations are becoming much tougher.
This step represents a new gross violation of international law, including US obligations under the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic and consular relations. It even surpasses what it was thought of earlier in Washington, including the expropriation by the Administration of Barack Obama in December last year, despite the immunity, of the residential complexes of the Russian Embassy and the Permanent Mission to the United Nations .
In addition to the regular raider seizure of expensive Russian state property, which we have been urged to sell after they (the FBI) blocked access to such property, this time the demands of the US authorities create a direct threat to the safety of Russian citizens. American intelligence agencies set out on September 2 to conduct a search at the Consulate General in San Francisco , including in the apartments of employees residing in his building and having immunity, for which they ordered that they and their families, including minors and even infants, vacate within 12 hours. This is an invasion of the consular establishment and the home of diplomatic workers, and they are left to fend for themselves, so as not to interfere with the FBI agents.
With such defiant actions, the US continues to burden the already difficult atmosphere of the bilateral dialogue, undermining opportunities for cooperation, including in the interests of solving pressing international problems.
It is especially depressing that tens of thousands of ordinary citizens of both countries, far from the political situation, will suffer from such measures. The US demonstrates that they have absolutely no interest in the development of ties between people-first they stopped issuing visas to Russians in their consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, and now they deprive Americans of the opportunity to obtain Russian visas to San Francisco. In essence, this is a continuation of the same line of the Obama Administration, according to which, in 2013, the FBI intimidated American participants in study trips to Russia, organized through Rossotrudnichestvo, and in 2016 the State Department stripped five of our honorary consuls in different states, actively engaged in the expansion of public (in this case educational) exchanges.
We strongly protest against Washington’s actions that ignore international law, and, as is customary in diplomatic practice, reserve the opportunity for retaliatory measures. This is not our choice. It has been imposed upon us”.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.