Support The Moscow Times!

U.S. Vows to Return Flags From Seized Russian Consulate

Russian Consulate in San Francisco / Russian Foreign Ministry

The United States will return the flags removed from a seized consulate in San Francisco to Russia, the State Department said.

Moscow has protested the flag removals and demanded the immediate return of its state symbols “to their place.”

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said at a Thursday briefing that the Russian flags in San Francisco had been lowered with respect and stored safely inside the properties. 

“Russian authorities have been told that we would be able to return those flags certainly at their convenience,” she said.

U.S. officials searched the Russian consulate in San Francisco earlier this month after Russian diplomatic staff were forced to vacate the property on Washington’s orders. The expulsions were in response to Moscow’s demand that U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia be cut by the hundreds.

Nauert defended the seizure of the San Francisco building and two other consular annexes as “perfectly legal.” Russia disagrees and has hired a law firm to represent its interests in the dispute.

“We did this with a lot of thought in place and we did it in a judicious fashion,” Nauert added. “There is nothing that was inappropriate or done wrong in any kind of fashion.”

Russia demanded that the United States cut its diplomatic staff after Congress voted last summer to tighten sanctions against Russia.

This week the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the option of sending home an additional 150 U.S. diplomatic personnel remains on the table.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.