Russian Federation may demand U.S. to reduce diplomats to 300 or fewer


Lavrov, in a telephone conversation with Tillerson, also said it was unacceptable that USA authorities had removed Russian flags from its seized diplomatic buildings in the United States, the ministry said.

The statement came following warnings by Russian officials of their intention to respond to the September shutdown of Russian diplomatic missions across the USA, including its consulate in the west coast city of San Francisco.

Russian flags were "respectfully" lowered by US officials at former Russian properties in Washington, DC and San Francisco, when the buildings were closed, a US Department of State official told Sputnik.

The Russian Embassy to the United States said on its Russian-language Twitter account that flags were "stolen" from the building, and called it "the latest shameful event" in a series of tit-for-tat diplomatic reprisals between the countries this year.

"Our actions when it comes to those facilities we believe is perfectly legal", Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman, told reporters. We demand that symbol stolen from American government be returned immediately.

Russian Federation has drastically scaled down the USA diplomatic staff in Russian Federation to 455 people and seized a U.S. dacha and a warehouse in Moscow in retaliation to Washington's actions.

The United States in August ordered Russian Federation to close its San Francisco consulate and two other installations as relations between the former Cold War foes took another nose-dive.

The West imposed punishing sanctions on Russian Federation over its meddling in its ex-Soviet neighbour, sparking a revenge embargo from Moscow against agricultural products.

The figure of 455 was meant to mirror the total number of Russian diplomats working in the U.S., but also included Russian nationals working at the United Nations in New York, Borisenko told the agency. Russian Federation called these actions unfriendly and pledged to sue the proper USA authorities over the situation.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said Washington hoped that complying with the Russian requirements would mean both countries could stop trading retaliatory measures, RIA later reported.