The Russian Foreign Ministry remains angry at American officials for shutting down several diplomatic facilities in August, including the Russian consulate in San Francisco.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov previously dismissed the action as “state hooliganism.” The Russian Foreign Ministry treated it like a burglary in a statement released on Tuesday and said retaliatory action may be forthcoming.
“Despite our warnings, the U.S. authorities did not listen to reason and did not give up their illegal intentions. We reserve the right to respond. The principle of reciprocity has always been and remains the cornerstone of diplomacy,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Reuters notes Russian television has been airing footage of U.S. officials apparently preparing to break locks and force their way into the consulate compound. The Foreign Ministry referred to these officials as “intruders.”
The Russian embassy sniped at U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert from its Facebook page, mocking her for saying that American officials took a “walkthrough” of the Russian diplomatic facility.
“In this regard, we would like to draw everyone’s attention (and especially Mrs. Nauert’s) to the following video evidence that clearly shows how US officials broke into our buildings. And what was called ‘walking through, looking around’ lasted the whole night,” the embassy wrote while posting another copy of the lock-cutting video.
Foreign Policy notes that in its official newsletter, the Russian embassy published an article about the San Francisco incident under the headline, “U.S. Completely and Unlawfully Seizes Russian Consulate General in SF.”
As Foreign Policy goes on to note, we are already several layers deep into retaliation since the Frisco facility was closed in retaliation to Russia closing two compounds and ordering a sharp decrease in American diplomatic staff, which in turn was retaliation for the U.S. seizing two Russian compounds and expelling 35 diplomats, which was done in retaliation for alleged Russian mischief in the 2016 U.S. election.
The next round of diplomatic warfare might be fought in the parking lots of Washington and Moscow. The Russians have already taken away some parking spaces reserved for U.S. officials in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, but not in Moscow, where losing a parking space really hurts.
“We are not currently engaged in conversations about parking spaces,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Foreign Policy in an effort to keep the parking peace.
Amid this slowly escalating exchange of traffic inconveniences and snarky Facebook posts, Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed new U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman at the Kremlin on Tuesday.
Putin told Huntsman that U.S.-Russia relations are “below satisfactory” and expressed a desire for renewed relations based on “equality, respect for national interests, and noninterference with each other’s internal affairs.”
This struck Newsweek as an audacious demand for Putin to make, given Russia’s interference in U.S. electoral affairs.
“I look forward to working to rebuild trust between our two countries and to strengthening the bilateral relationship based on cooperation on common interests,” Huntsman responded.
“It is unclear how Huntsman was able to keep a straight face,” Newsweek marveled. Perhaps he was thinking about losing the sweet parking space he was given at the Kremlin.