Russia hands note of protest to US over plans to search trade mission


MOSCOW, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Russia's foreign ministry has summoned a U.S. diplomat in Moscow to hand him a note of protest over plans to conduct searches in Russia's trade mission complex in Washington, which should soon be closed, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

It said it has summoned Anthony F. Godfrey, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow according to the embassy web site.

The ministry called the planned "illegal inspection" of Russian diplomatic housing an "unprecedented aggressive action," which could be used by the U.S. special services for "anti-Russian provocations" by the way of "planting compromised items."

The closure by Sept. 2 of the consulate and buildings in Washington and New York that house Russian trade missions is the latest in tit-for-tat actions by the two countries that have helped push relations to a new post-Cold War low.

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Russian consulate in San Francisco
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Russian consulate in San Francisco
The Russian Consulate building, where smoke was seen coming from its roof, is seen in San Francisco, California September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: San Francisco firefighters talk with workers at the Russian consulate after responding to reports of a fire in the building on September 1, 2017 in San Francisco, California. In response to a Russian government demand for the United States to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 455, the Trump administration ordered the closure of three consular offices in the San Francisco, New York and Washington. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Black smoke billows from a chimney on top of the Russian consulate on September 1, 2017 in San Francisco, California. In response to a Russian government demand for the United States to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 455, the Trump administration ordered the closure of three consular offices in the San Francisco, New York and Washington. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A sign is seen on Russian Consulate building, where smoke was seen earlier coming from its roof, in San Francisco, California, September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: People wait in line to enter the Russian consulate on September 1, 2017 in San Francisco, California. In response to a Russian government demand for the United States to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 455, the Trump administration ordered the closure of three consular offices in the San Francisco, New York and Washington. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The roof of the Russian Consulate building, where smoke was seen coming from earlier, is seen in San Francisco, California, September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 31: A view of the Russian consulate on August 31, 2017 in San Francisco, California. In response to a Russian government demand for the United States to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 455, the Trump administration ordered the closure of three consular offices in the San Francisco, New York and Washington. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Black smoke billows from a chimney on top of the Russian consulate on September 1, 2017 in San Francisco, California. In response to a Russian government demand for the United States to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 455, the Trump administration ordered the closure of three consular offices in the San Francisco, New York and Washington. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: A woman leaves the Russian consulate on September 1, 2017 in San Francisco, California. In response to a Russian government demand for the United States to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 455, the Trump administration ordered the closure of three consular offices in the San Francisco, New York and Washington. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, USA - AUGUST 31 : A Russian flag waves on top of Consulate General Of The Russian Federation building as the consulate readies itself for closure in San Francisco, United States on August 31, 2017. The Trump administration ordered Russia to close it's consulate in San Francisco, and two annexes in New York and Washington in response to a Russian order that the United States cut it's diplomatic staff in Moscow. (Photo by Philip Pacheco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Black smoke billows from a chimney on top of the Russian consulate on September 1, 2017 in San Francisco, California. In response to a Russian government demand for the United States to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 455, the Trump administration ordered the closure of three consular offices in the San Francisco, New York and Washington. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A Closed sign is seen on the Russian Consulate building, where smoke was seen earlier coming from its roof, in San Francisco, California, September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Black smoke billows from a chimney on top of the Russian consulate on September 1, 2017 in San Francisco, California. In response to a Russian government demand for the United States to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 455, the Trump administration ordered the closure of three consular offices in the San Francisco, New York and Washington. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, USA - AUGUST 31 : People gather outside the Russian consulate passport office as consulate readies itself for closure in San Francisco, United States on August 31, 2017. The Trump administration ordered Russia to close it's consulate in San Francisco, and two annexes in New York and Washington in response to a Russian order that the United States cut it's diplomatic staff in Moscow. (Photo by Philip Pacheco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, USA - AUGUST 31 : A Russian flag waves on top of Consulate General Of The Russian Federation building as the consulate readies itself for closure in San Francisco, United States on August 31, 2017. The Trump administration ordered Russia to close it's consulate in San Francisco, and two annexes in New York and Washington in response to a Russian order that the United States cut it's diplomatic staff in Moscow. (Photo by Philip Pacheco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, USA - AUGUST 31 : A Russian consulate official waits to allow people into the passport office after the Trump administration ordered the closure of the Russian consulate in San Francisco, United States on August 31, 2017. The Trump administration ordered Russia to close it's consulate in San Francisco, and two annexes in New York and Washington in response to a Russian order that the United States cut it's diplomatic staff in Moscow. (Photo by Philip Pacheco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, USA - AUGUST 31 : A woman speaks with an official after picking up her United States passport at the Consulate General Of The Russian Federation building as the consulate readies itself for closure in San Francisco, United States on August 31, 2017. The Trump administration ordered Russia to close it's consulate in San Francisco, and two annexes in New York and Washington in response to a Russian order that the United States cut it's diplomatic staff in Moscow. (Photo by Philip Pacheco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, USA - AUGUST 31 : A staff of Consulate General Of The Russian Federation carries boxes as the consulate readies itself for closure in San Francisco, United States on August 31, 2017. The Trump administration ordered Russia to close it's consulate in San Francisco, and two annexes in New York and Washington in response to a Russian order that the United States cut it's diplomatic staff in Moscow. (Photo by Philip Pacheco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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The Kremlin has said the moves to close the Russian facilities pushed bilateral ties further into a dead end.

On Friday, the Russian foreign ministry also said the U.S. special services were prepared for searches in its consulate in San Francisco.

Some media reported that a smoke was billowing from a chimney of the building. Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the ministry, said it was part of a "mothballing".

"In relation to this, the windows could be closed, the light could be turned off, the water could be drained out, the heating appliances could be turned off, the garbage could be thrown away, essential services could be turned off and many other things," she wrote on social media.

Moscow last month ordered the United States to cut its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia by more than half, to 455 people to match the number of Russian diplomats in the United States, after Congress overwhelmingly approved new sanctions against Russia.

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