A security official stands just inside the gate to the former Russian consul general's residence Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Seattle. Officials with the U.S. State Department have drilled out locks to access and inspect the home, a day after Russian staff vacated the site. President Donald Trump's administration announced last month that the diplomatic outpost would be closed and 60 Russian diplomats would be expelled nationwide to punish Moscow for its alleged role in poisoning an ex-spy in Britain. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE — There’s a diplomatic fight brewing over the now-closed Russian consulate’s flag in Seattle.

U.S. State Department officials said they lowered Russia’s flag “respectfully” Saturday from the Russian consul-general residence. The mansion was vacated last month after the U.S. forced the consulate to close.

The Russian Embassy has demanded it be put back, accusing the U.S. of “unacceptable treatment” of their national symbol.

The Russians say it’s their property, though the Americans say that the Russia-owned house is built on U.S. government-owned land.

The State Department said it asked the Russians to take it down themselves because the house no longer serves as their consulate.

U.S. officials also noted that it took down its American flag with a brief ceremony when it was likewise forced to leave its St. Petersburg, Russia, consulate, saying in its statement: “Since the Russians chose not to treat their own flag with such respect, we have done so for them.”

The flag will be returned to the Russian Embassy, the State Department said.

The consulate was shut down in response to allegations that the Russian government tried to poison a former Russian spy living in the United Kingdom.

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