Washington accuses Moscow of harassing US Diplomats

Washington : Concerned about accusations of increasing intimidation of American diplomats in Russia, Washington has delivered high-level complaints to Moscow, the State Department confirmed.
State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said that harassment of diplomats by Russian security agents and traffic police had been an issue over the past two years adding that Secretary of State John Kerry last discussed the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin in March this year.

Trudeau however, did not detail any individual incidents of such harassment nor did she disclosed why Kerry had brought up the matter earlier with Putin.

Trudeau also claimed that other Western embassies have also reported the same behavior toward their diplomats stationed in Moscow, reports CNN.

“We see an increase and we take it seriously,” she told reporters at a press briefing.

The incidents were first reported by The Washington Post on Monday, including breaking into the homes of embassy personnel and moving around contents.

On the other hand, Moscow has also accused Washington of engaging in problematic behavior.

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.”

According to Zakharova, staff members of Russia’s consulate missions abroad “regularly become the objects of provocations by the American secret services, face obstacles in making official contacts and other restrictions,” including travel.

Trudeau however, dismissed Russia’s claims of U.S. harassment of its diplomats as “without foundation” and said American diplomats are faced with same restrictions as Russian diplomats under the terms of a reciprocal agreement.

“Harassment of U.S. diplomats by host government services is a longstanding problem that occurs inside Russia,” according to Trudeau. But she said an increase in incidents over the past several years appears to correspond to the imposition of Western sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

The Putin-Kerry conversation came after Washington in January stripped five of six Russian honorary consuls of credentials to retaliate for harassment of its diplomats in Moscow.

Honorary consuls are typically U.S. citizens or green card holders who perform consular services outside Washington on behalf of a foreign government. (ANI)