The United States of America has sunk to a new low in diplomacy and civilized relations between nation states with its demand that Russia close its consular missions in San Francisco, Washington and New York, quickly followed by its order that the consular staff leave the premises while the FBI conducted a search of the premises and staffers personal apartments. To order the closure of a mission, or to order the withdrawal of a member of diplomatic staff, is within its right but a search of consular property is not. It is a flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.
Article 22 of the Convention states:
1. “The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.
3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.”
Article 45 states that even
“If diplomatic relations are broken off between two States, or if a mission is permanently or temporarily recalled:
(a) The receiving State must, even in case of armed conflict, respect and protect the premises of the mission, together with its property and archives;
(b) The sending State may entrust the custody of the premises of the mission, together with its property and archives, to a third State acceptable to the receiving State”.
The Vienna Convention is one of the foundations of international relations. Without it, and the ancient customs enshrined in it, international relations cannot exist. The United States of America is a state party to the Convention and so is bound by it as part of international law and as part of American law.
The Russian Foreign Ministry correctly stated that, “the occupation of Russian diplomatic properties in the US is a blunt act of hostility and in violation of international law.” The Russians also expressed their logical concern that the only reason for such a s