The United States seized control of three Russian diplomatic posts in San Francisco, New York, and Washington D.C. on Saturday after the Trump administration ordered them to leave within two days, officials said.
Russia 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.” A senior U.S. State Department official denied the allegations and said that U.S. officials had accompanied Russian Embassy employees for walkthroughs of the three buildings.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday it that the U.S. deputy chief of mission in Moscow, Anthony Godfrey, delivered a formal protest note that called the search an “unprecedented aggressive action.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry posted a video on Facebook of the FBI inspection in San Francisco.
The U.S. did not say how long the Russians would have to move out of the residential part of the consulate. The State Department is expected to control access to the properties, as well as securing and maintaining them.
The decision comes amid heightened tensions between The United States and Russia following allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential elections.
“We want to halt the downward spiral and we want to move toward better relations,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Thursday. “But we’re also going to make sure that we make decisions that are best for our country.”
The Associated Press contributed to that report.