U.S. officials seized three Russian diplomatic posts in San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C. Saturday after the Trump administration ordered the occupants to leave within 48 hours.
A senior State Department official said U.S. officials and Russian Embassy personnel conducted joint walkthroughs of the three buildings before they were formally turned over to the Americans.
“These inspections were carried out to secure and protect the facilities and to confirm the Russian government had vacated the premises,” the official said in a statement emailed Saturday to reporters by the State Department on condition the official not be named.
The official also denied Kremlin claims that American officials had threatened to “break down the entrance door” to one of the facilities, and that the FBI was “clearing the premises.”
Russia has been incensed by the move to shutter its consulate in San Francisco and trade offices in Washington and New York, actions the U.S. took in retaliation for Moscow’s decision last month to force the U.S. to cut its diplomatic personnel in Russia to 455.
Moscow has accused the U.S. of violating international law by shuttering the facilities, a charge the U.S. disputes.
On Saturday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the U.S. deputy chief of mission in Moscow, Anthony Godfrey, to deliver a formal protest note calling the purported trade office search an “unprecedented aggressive action.”
The Foreign Ministry also posted video on Facebook that it said showed FBI agents inspecting the consulate general building in San Francisco. 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…