Washington has offered an explanation for its unwarranted searches of Russian diplomatic properties in San Francisco and Washington on Saturday. According to the State Department, the inspections were carried out "to ensure security," and "confirm that Russian officials have vacated the premises."
Moscow called US actions an "openly hostile act and gross violation of international law, including the Vienna conventions on diplomatic and consular relations and the bilateral consular convention" between Russia and the United States. Officials and lawmakers have vowed to respond to the US provocation.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry has published videos of the Russian diplomatic properties during their search by the FBI, prompting a series of hilarious and witty remarks from users in the videos' comments sections.
"Interesting. What are they looking for? A nuclear bomb? Russian hackers? Vodka? Mexican illegal immigrants? Beats me," a user named Alexander wrote.
"Look in the bathroom; there's a submarine in there with nuclear warheads," another named Ulfat quipped.
"Were they searching for Putin in there?" Inga joked.
"What´s that? No weapons? No nuclear charges? No chemical weapons? No terrorist propaganda papers? No secrets super computers for [spying]? No rockets with nuclear heads? What a miss? Everything have been hidden by russians," Guillermo wrote.
"I get the feeling that they were expecting to see Osama Bin Laden or Hitler in the room," Vladimir commented, referring to the nervous behavior of the FBI agent who seemed particularly uncomfortable as he knocked on doors during the search.
"They're all looking for Mr. Trump's slippers," Shamil joked.
Others took their jokes and witty comments to Twitter. One tweet in particular, written by military journalist Alexander Kotz, was particularly well received, retweeted, and reposted dozens of times over.
The video clip, featuring a scene from the Russian cult classic movie Brother 2, shows one of its main characters throwing a vodka bottle out a window and shouting "Russians don't surrender" while surrounded by police. The video is accompanied by the tagline "EXCLUSIVE: The Russian Consulate in San Francisco as we speak."
🔥🔥🔥ЭКСКЛЮЗИВ: Консульство России в Сан-Франциско в эти минуты pic.twitter.com/8BoYNnRQJq— Александр Коц (@sashakots) 2 сентября 2017 г.
"EXCLUSIVE: The Russian Consulate in San Francisco as we speak."
Others tweeted in a similar vein to the comments section of the Foreign Ministry's videos, focusing on the absurdity of the situation. One user in particular, rishikesh news, hit the jackpot with funny, news-like comments, dripping in sarcasm.
СРОЧНО. В результате обыска в дипмиссии РФ в США найдены портреты Путина, переписка на русском языке и компы с кириллицей— rishikesh news (@rishikesh_news) 3 сентября 2017 г.
"URGENT: As a result of the searches of the Russian diplomatic mission the US, portraits of Putin, correspondence in Russian and computers with Cyrillic keyboards have been found."
СРОЧНО. ФБР установило, что сотрудники российской дипмиссии работали на Кремль и выполняли приказы Путина— rishikesh news (@rishikesh_news) 3 сентября 2017 г.
"URGENT: The FBI has determined that the employees of the Russian diplomatic mission were working for the Kremlin and carrying out Putin's orders."
СРОЧНО. Компьютеры дипмиссии России в США имели доступ в сеть интернет, а следовательно могли использоваться для взлома выборов в США— rishikesh news (@rishikesh_news) 3 сентября 2017 г.
"URGENT: The computers found in the Russian diplomatic mission in the United States had access to the internet, and therefore may have been used to hack the US elections."
San Francisco Consul General Sergei Petrov confirmed Sunday that the Consulate has stopped its operations. The US State Department has said that Russian Embassy personnel will soon leave the consulate and two diplomatic properties in New York and Washington DC in accordance with US demands. "Russia will no longer be permitted to use these facilities for diplomatic or consular purposes," a State Department spokesman told Russian media.