Russia’s Foreign Ministry has demanded the United States return the Russian flag that was flown from the seized consulate in Seattle.
Washington expelled 60 Russian diplomats and ordered that the consulate be closed last month as part of a coordinated Western response to the nerve agent poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in Britain. Russia, which denies responsibility for the poisoning, expelled 60 U.S. diplomats and ordered the closure of the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg following the results of a Twitter poll.
Protesting its removal “under the cover of night,” the embassy said in a Facebook statement Monday that the Russian flag is “inviolable” state property.
“In this regard we insist that our state flag be returned immediately to its legitimate place — the flag pole over the residence building,” the embassy wrote.
Late on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry demanded the return of all Russian diplomatic “property” in Washington, San Francisco and Seattle, as well as the compounds in Maryland and New York.
An unnamed State Department spokesperson told state-run TASS news agency that Russian diplomats were offered but declined to take the flag when they vacated the Seattle consulate.
“Since the Russians decided not to treat their flag with the same respect, we did it for them,” he was quoted as saying Tuesday, pledging to return the flag to Russia.