(News Desk) – A senior Russian diplomat says US officials have “crossed a red line” by forcing their way into Moscow’s consulate in Seattle which was shut down amid a diplomatic standoff between the two sides.
“Colleagues in Washington have crossed a red line and went beyond what is permitted and reasonable,” Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by Russia’s Kommersant newspaper on Thursday.
A source with Russia’s embassy to the United States said Wednesday that US officials had broken into the residence of the Russian consul, breaking the entrance door lock.
Ryabkov described the Wednesday intrusion as unparalleled in the history of international relations and suggested taking US authorities to court.
“It is another question what the reaction of the US judiciary will be,” he said, adding Russia was in for an “experiment on an issue that simply has no precedent.”
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova slammed the US intrusion as a “hostile takeover.”
“A state-sponsored hostile takeover is a rare spectacle,” she wrote on her Facebook page on Wednesday.
“Do hurry to see how the American authorities have begun seizing the complex of Russian consulate general in Seattle,” Zakharova wrote as she posted a link to live coverage from the premises of the Russian consulate.
The Russian embassy in Washington said earlier that the “hostile” act dimmed prospects for improving bilateral ties.
“They took down the locks and now do whatever they please on the Russian territory. We regard such US actions as hostile against Russia,” the embassy said in a statement.
The Russian diplomatic mission said the move was in violation of international norms and regulations, adding this “most certainly count as an additional blow to the US-Russia relations, which are already in a crisis state.”
“We see it as a gross violation of the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations as well as of the US legislation banning intrusion into a private area,” Nikolai Pukalov, the head of the consular department of Russia’s embassy to the United States, said.
The Russian embassy also accused US media of “raising hysteria” around Russian diplomats who were ordered to leave for allegedly conducting covert operations on the US soil.
Diplomats working at the Russian consulate in Seattle left the city on Tuesday afternoon. Senior Consul Khalit Aisin said 23 people, including diplomats and their families, left the city in eleven cars for Washington.
They were ordered to vacate the facility last month by the US administration amid tensions between the US and Russia over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain.
Britain last month accused Russia of poisoning former double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, without offering any proof.
Russia has denied any involvement in the incident, which occurred on March 4 in the British city of Salisbury. The Skripals are being treated in a UK hospital.
In late March, the US administration announced it was expelling 48 Russian diplomats and 12 diplomats from Russia’s permanent mission to the UN in New York.
In a tit-for-tat move, Russia expelled 60 US diplomats and closed the St. Petersburg consulate.