US accuses Russia of harassing, intimidating diplomats

Washington complains to Moscow about accusations of increasing incidents of harassment of diplomats from the US and other western countries in Russia over the past two years.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

President Obama

Washington has lodged a complaint over increasing cases of intimidation of American and other western countries' diplomats in Moscow.

During a weekly briefing on Monday, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau revealed that Secretary of State John Kerry took up this issue in his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 24.

John Kerry with Putin

"We see an increase and we take it seriously," Trudeau said. She believes that the harassment of diplomats by Russian intelligence officials and traffic police had been an issue over the past two years, which roughly corresponds to the imposition of western sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Ukraine remains locked in conflict with Moscow, which annexed the Crimean Peninsula and has supported a pro-Russian insurgency in the east. During two years of violence, more than 9,000 people have been killed. The crisis started back in April 2014.

The spokeswoman would not discuss specific incidents but The Washington Post reported earlier on Monday that it included breaking into the homes of embassy personnel and rearranging furniture. In one incident, security agents killed a family pet of the US diplomat stationed in the Moscow.

Moscow termed this as tit for tat response, accusing Washington of also engaging in problematic behaviour. Last week the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow has "felt a significant increase in pressure on the Russian Embassy and consulates general of our country in the United States."

Trudeau dismissed Russia's claims of US harassment of its diplomats, saying the accusation was made "without foundation," and said American diplomats face the same restrictions as Russian diplomats under the terms of a reciprocal agreement.

TRTWorld and agencies