Russian flags removed from Russian consulate by USA authorities

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In July, Moscow told the United States to slash the number of its diplomatic and technical staff working in Russian Federation by around 60 percent, to 455, in a further sign of souring relations.

"The Russian side will decide on retaliatory measures", Ms Zakharova said.

Zakharova also said that in accordance with an instruction given by President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Foreign Ministry was in the process of selecting a legal firm to start a court proceeding over the seizure of diplomatic properties. Maria Zakharova, the official spokesperson for the ministry, said that the latest move of the United States to remove Russian flags from the buildings of the Russian consulate in San Francisco and the trade mission in Washington was "outrageous".

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Zakharova said that by such actions, some USA political forces were deliberately destroying relations with Russian Federation.

He stressed that it had been done with due respect to the Russian national symbols. During the recent months, Russian representatives have been denied access to five objects of the Russian diplomatic property in the United States.

Earlier, Russian flags were removed from the buildings of the Consulate General in San Francisco and the Trade Representation in Washington, DC.

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"We consider this as an extremely unfriendly step", the embassy said.

In late August, the United States ordered Russian Federation to close its consulate in San Francisco and two other installations as relations between the two former Cold War enemies took another dive. Besides, they demanded that the Consulate General in San Francisco should be closed and the consul general's residence emptied. Entrance doors to the buildings were broken, while the buildings themselves were searched.

These facilities have been actually taken under control of the Diplomatic Security Service, a law enforcement and security arm of the US Department of State.

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