Russia has drafted formal ‘note of protest’ to US

Russia has drafted formal ‘note of protest’ to US

Russia's foreign ministry has drafted a formal note of protest to the United States' plans to conduct a search of a soon-to-be shuttered Russian trade mission complex in Washington. 

The ministry said Saturday that it had summoned Anthony Godfrey, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, to receive the note, as reported by Reuters.

The note argues that conducting such a search in the absence of Russian officials is an "unprecedented, aggressive action" that unlawfully targets diplomats and could be used by U.S. intelligence services to provoke Russia. 

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The Trump administration ordered Russia this week to close its consulate in San Francisco, as well as two other diplomatic annexes in Washington and New York, in retaliation for Moscow's order that the U.S. cut diplomatic staff in Russia. 

The Trump administration cast the move as a return to diplomatic parity between the two countries, and completely in line with what the Russian government has pushed for.

"I think that we are responding in this instance to the Russian desire for parity in the diplomatic relationship, and we have taken these steps in that measure, in that spirit, and it is our hope that the Russians will recognize that since they were the ones who started the discussion on parity and we’re responding and complying with what they required of us," a senior administration official said Thursday. 

Russian officials immediately condemned the order to shutter the compounds, saying that it marked another blow to an already-deteriorating relationship with the U.S.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that the government was weighing a response to the compound closures, and vowed to respond harshly to anything that threatened Moscow's interests.

"Ss you know, it takes two to tango," he told students in Moscow. "So far it seems like our American partners are more interested in solo break dancing."

An unexplained fire was spotted Friday night behind the Russian diplomatic building that is soon to close in Washington, D.C. and Foreign Policy reported that the building’s staff could be seen dumping paper into the fire.