US Invasion of Russian Property Unprecedented Violation of Vienna Convention

© AFP 2022 / Josh EdelsonPeople walk past the Consulate-General of Russia in San Francisco, California on December 29, 2016
People walk past the Consulate-General of Russia in San Francisco, California on December 29, 2016 - Sputnik International
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The US government’s occupation of Russian diplomatic properties within the United States is an unprecedented violation of sovereignty in defiance of international treaties, analysts told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would instruct the Foreign Ministry to go to court after the US State Department closed three Russian diplomatic facilities in retaliation for Moscow’s decision to cut US diplomatic staff in Russia.

UNPRECEDENTED VIOLATIONS

Searches of the Russian consulate in San Francisco began on Saturday, after the US State Department ordered the Russian foreign ministry on August 31 to vacate the premises by September 2.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrived in at least two vehicles to search the San Francisco Consulate. The minute the deadline expired, agents entered the Russian-owned diplomatic property.

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The FBI agents were recorded on video as causing considerable damage to the property, including damaging the wooden floor and roaming freely on the roof.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that the "occupation" of Russian diplomatic properties in the United States was a blunt act of hostility, adding that Washington had violated international law.

"The US action has no precedent," University of Pittsburgh Professor of International Affairs Michael Brenner told Sputnik.

Brenner claimed that the US moves had violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963.

The Convention on Consular Relations is an international treaty that defines a framework for consular relations between independent states. The treaty has been ratified by 179 states.

UNDERMINING RULE OF LAW

A State Department official told Sputnik over the weekend that the United States fully complied with international law and denied ransacking and breaking down any doors at any of the Russian diplomatic facilities.

Putin in his remarks on Tuesday said that the world would now see, "how effectively the vaunted American judicial system works."

Russian Alexei Tarasov told Sputnik that there will be no confidence in the security of diplomatic missions in the United States or worldwide if a US court rules that the Vienna Convention is not recognized as binding on American territory.

Retired Canadian diplomat Patrick Armstrong, an expert on Russian affairs told Sputnik that the US moves appeared to be in gross violation of the Vienna Convention.

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Armstrong said the move was symptomatic of the increasing reliance on executive action by the US federal government ignoring the precedents and constraints of domestic and international law and further accelerating the erosion of the international order.

"Given that the US appears to have grossly violated the Vienna Convention one has to wonder is there is any rule of law left in the United State," Armstrong said.

Washington’s move to shut down the compounds came after Moscow announced in July that the diplomatic presence of the United States in Russia would be scaled down by 755 people to 455, the same number of diplomatic personnel Russia has in the United States since late 2016, when 35 Russian diplomats were expelled from the United States.

The latest moves by the Trump administration continue the cycle of reducing bilateral diplomatic relations and ease of access between the superpowers that was started by the Obama administration in 2016.

Obama officials expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the United States and seized Russian properties in the states of Maryland and New York for interfering in the US presidential elections, charges Russian officials have repeatedly denied.

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