Russian consulate in New York vandalized with red paint
A woman takes a picture of the Russian consulate in New York on September 30, 2022 after it was vandalized with red spray paint early Friday (AFP)

The Russian Consulate in New York was vandalized with red spray paint early Friday, in an apparent protest as President Vladimir Putin pursues his bloody invasion of Ukraine.

Officers said they responded to an emergency call just after 1:30 am that reported paint sprayed across the facade of the consulate on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

A police spokeperson said the investigation was ongoing into the potential "bias incident" and no arrests had been made.

The bright red paint appeared hours before Putin announced he was annexing four parts of Ukraine occupied by his army.

Shelling also killed at least 30 people in Ukraine's southern region of Zaporizhzhia -- one of the worst attacks against civilians in months.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the US-led military alliance NATO to grant Ukraine expedited membership, as international leaders including Joe Biden condemned Moscow's annexations.

Rosie Morse, a retiree who lives in the neighborhood near the consulate, said the spray paint "looks like art work."

"But the meaning is to express our feeling about Putin, and I can't say that I don't agree," she told AFP.

"It's vandalism but it is the expression of how people in New York are realizing Putin is killing people," said another bystander, Romen Baulin, 34. "This is a historical building and we are in the middle of New York, but I totally agree with the artist who did it."

© Agence France-Presse