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3 Oct, 2017 11:01

Putin takes credentials from new US envoy as bilateral ties hit new low

Vladimir Putin has taken credentials from foreign envoys, including the new US ambassador, urging “predictable” dialogue with Washington. Bilateral ties hit a new low on Monday when the US “completely…unlawfully” seized the Russian consulate in San Francisco.

Current Russia-US bilateral relations cannot “cause satisfaction,” Putin said during an official ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow.

“We are advocating constructive, predictable and mutually-beneficial cooperation,” the Russian leader stressed, adding that “strict adherence to the principles of equality, respect for national interests and noninterference in the internal affairs” must be the basis of the bilateral cooperation.

After the ceremony, the new chief of the US diplomatic mission vowed to work on restoring trust and strengthening bilateral cooperation between Moscow and Washington.

Huntsman’s appointment comes at a tense time for Russia-US ties. The pair are embroiled in a diplomatic row, depriving each other of diplomatic properties and cutting the number of officials.

In the latest move, the Russian diplomatic mission had to leave the consular residence in San Francisco by October 1 at the orders of the Trump administration.

A blacksmith broke the lock on the building on Monday, triggering an angry reaction from Moscow.

"Despite warnings, US authorities have not listened to the voice of reason and didn't give up on their unlawful intents,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It added that the US authorities “completely” seized the Consulate General and the administrative building which represented “a violation of international law.”

On Tuesday, the US State Department claimed no locks had been broken at the consulate premises. Speaking at a briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert told the media that all that had happened was that the deadline set by Washington for some Russian families living in the building has expired.

In August, the US ordered the closure of a Russian consular annex in New York and a chancery annex in Washington, DC.

In its statement on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry also announced that it reserves the right for reciprocal actions against the US.

READ MORE: Diplomatic war: From Obama’s expulsion of Russian embassy staff to Trump’s closure of SF consulate

The diplomatic scandal initially flared up following the decision of the Obama administration to expel Russian diplomats and seize Russian compounds in New York and Maryland over alleged meddling in the 2016 US elections.

The new administration has not changed course, and the countries have become embroiled in a series of retaliatory measures, including the cutting of the US diplomatic corps in Russia to 455 people and limiting of nonimmigrant visa operations in Russia.

Jon Huntsman, the former governor for Utah, served as ambassador to China under Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011, and was the ambassador to Singapore under former President George H.W. Bush.

The new ambassador arrived in Russia on Monday in order to attend the Tuesday ceremony at the Kremlin. He is to leave till next week as he has several meetings in Washington.