The United States expelled two Russians in response to an attack on a U.S. diplomat in Moscow last month. The AP reports:
The officials were expelled June 17, department spokesman John Kirby told reporters. He didn’t immediately provide additional information.
Kirby said the American was attacked June 6 by a Russian guard outside the U.S. Embassy compound. Kirby said the attack was “unprovoked and it endangered the safety of our employee.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry claims the American was a CIA agent who refused to provide his identification documents and hit the guard in the face. Moscow says the policeman was fulfilling his duties defending the embassy.
You can see the attack for yourself. It was broadcast on Russian television and has since been all over You Tube. The diplomat is knocked down seconds after getting out of a cab and then crawls inside the front door of the embassy with the Russian guard lying on top of him:
CNN reports that the State Department sees this as part of a pattern of escalating intimidation of diplomats by Russia:
Kirby said that Russian officials’ claims that the policeman was attempting to protect the embassy were “simply untrue.”
He called this a “very graphic and violent example” of two years of “increased harassment” of U.S. diplomats in Russia…
Washington had delivered high-level complaints to Moscow about accusations of increasing intimidation of American diplomats in Russia, the State Department said in June.
Secretary of State John Kerry last discussed the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 24, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters last month.
Other western diplomats operating in Moscow have reportedly faced similar problems.