The US government has not responded.
Russia’s diplomatic building in Washington is one of three due to be closed on Saturday as part of tit-for-tat actions between the two countries. The US state department announced on Thursday that it would require Russia to shut the complexes – in Washington, New York and San Francisco – in response to enforced staff cuts at the US mission in Russia. It did not mention that searches would be conducted.
But in a statement released on Saturday, the Russian foreign ministry said it had summoned Anthony Godfrey, a deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Moscow, and handed him a note in protest at the supposed plans. It said it feared the US intelligence service could use the search to “orchestrate an anti-Russian provocation by planting compromising items”.
“We consider the planned illegal search of Russian diplomatic premises in the absence of Russian officials and the threat we have received to break down the door of the building as an unprecedented aggressive action,” the statement said (in Russian).
The Kremlin has condemned the latest order to shut the compounds, saying it is another blow to the already deteriorating relationship between the US and Russia.
In July, President Vladimir Putin said staff numbers at US diplomatic missions in Russia would have to be slashed by 755, in retaliation for new US sanctions against Moscow.
President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, along with the closure of two compounds, last December – in response to allegations of election interference. His successor, Donald Trump, has been dogged by claims that Russia tried to sway the election in his favour and several investigations are under way to determine whether anyone from his campaign colluded with Moscow.
But the Kremlin has repeatedly denied interfering and Mr Trump has insisted that there was no collusion, calling the investigations a “witch hunt”.