MOSCOW, March 30. /TASS/. Russian consul general in Seattle Valery Timashov has called the closure of the consulate in the US city a takeover of the Russian property.
"Essentially, the US side lifts diplomatic immunity and limits our access to our Russian property. So, this is the takeover of property," Timashov told Channel One television.
On March 26, the United States announced its decision to expel 60 Russian diplomats and close the Russian Consulate General in Seattle. Twenty-four European countries, Canada, Georgia and Australia also decided to expel a total of 63 Russian diplomats. NATO reduced the number of staff members of the Russian mission from 30 to 20. The EU recalled its ambassador for consultations, and Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Slovakia followed suit.
The UK earlier expelled 23 Russian diplomats and Moscow announced a tit-for-tat move.
This concerted action came amid the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, the UK, on March 4. London immediately accused Russia of being involved, but failed to provide any evidence. Moscow has rejected the allegations and vowed to respond to the unfriendly steps against it.
Russia has declared 58 diplomats of the US Embassy in Moscow and two staff members of the Consulate General in Yekaterinburg personae non gratae, they will have to leave the country by April 5, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday after US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman was summoned there. Besides, Moscow has revoked its consent to the opening and operations of the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg.