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Russian diplomats vacate 3 compounds in U.S., State Department says

Russian consulate in SF closes
Russian consulate in SF closes 00:20

A senior State Department official on Saturday said Russia had complied with the U.S. order to vacate three diplomatic facilities, but denied Russian claims that agents threatened to break down doors at the compounds.

On Friday, black smoke poured from the chimney of the Russian consulate in San Francisco.

A Facebook page for the Russian government posted multiple videos purporting to show FBI agents invading the facilities Saturday, after the State Department on Friday told Russia it must cease diplomatic operations at offices in San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York City. The U.S. made the move in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to expel 755 diplomatic personnel from the Kremlin. 

Several videos posted by the Russian government show individuals looking around diplomatic facilities in San Francisco and Washington, although all interactions appear cordial and non-confrontational. "Have a look at the video evidence of illegal actions by the U.S. authorities which in violation of international law and their own legislation have invaded Russian diplomatic facilities & are conducting an 'examination' of the premises," one Kremlin post reads.

A senior State Department official disputed the claims that the U.S. acted illegally or improperly, and said the State Department can confirm Russia complied with the order to vacate the premises.

"Today, Russian Embassy personnel, together with State Department officials, walked through three properties in San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C. that the Russian government is required to close," the senior State Department official said. 

"These inspections were carried out to secure and protect the facilities and to confirm the Russian government had vacated the premises," the official said. "The United States is fully adhering to the Vienna Convention, U.S. law, and bilateral agreements in these actions as well as in its demands for Russia to draw down those diplomatic properties. The Department of State can confirm that the Russian government complied with the order to vacate its Consulate and two annexes.

The official said that "accusations made by the Russian government, including that U.S. officials threatened to break down doors in the relevant properties or that the FBI is clearing the premises, are untrue."

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