WASHINGTON — The State Department has kicked out two Russian diplomats in response to the attack on a U.S. diplomat in Moscow outside the U.S. Embassy by a member of the FSB.
According to the Moscow Times, Russia has framed the attack as an American CIA agent trying to get into the embassy and being commendably stopped by a Russian FSB guard.
The video released Thursday by state-run TV channel NTV shows the FSB guy popping out of a booth and tackling the American as soon as he alights from a cab and starts the short distance toward a door. While struggling with the Russian, the American manages to inch toward the door and crawl into the safe harbor of U.S. turf.
At the State Department today, press secretary John Kirby was asked by a reporter about Russia being “bent on humiliating you over this incident.”
Kirby said they preferred “to deal with this matter in private, government-to-government channels,” but were now “compelled to set the record straight” since Russia was flashing its version everywhere.
In early June, he said, “an accredited U.S. diplomat who identified himself in accordance with embassy protocols entering the American Embassy compound was attacked by a Russian policeman.”
“The action was unprovoked and it endangered the safety of our employee. The Russian claim that the policeman was protecting the embassy from an unidentified individual is simply untrue,” Kirby said.
He charged that Russian security services “have intensified their harassment against U.S. personnel in an effort to disrupt our diplomatic and consular operations.”
“We’ve privately urged the Russian government to stop the harassment of American personnel in Russia,” Kirby added. “And as I said before, the safety and well-being of our diplomatic and consular personnel abroad and their accompanying family members are things we take very, very seriously.”
The spokesman wouldn’t comment on injuries suffered by the diplomat sacked to the ground.
“I think it certainly speaks, as I said, to the kinds of harassment over the last couple of years and this is a very graphic example and a very violent one. But it comes on the heels of two years of increasing diplomatic harassment by Russian authorities that is also unprovoked and unnecessary. And as I said, I think a week or so ago, Russian claims that they’re getting harassed here are simply without foundation,” Kirby continued. “So you want to have a conversation about in-kind treatment, it’s time for Russia to treat our diplomats in the same manner in which they’re treated here when they come to the United States.”
“…There’s no need for this when there’s so many more important things for us to be working on with Russia and so much real meaningful geopolitical progress that could be had. There’s no place for this kind of treatment and there’s no reason for it.”
Kirby later that they’re giving Russian officials a change to “rein in” the abuse as “such efforts against U.S. personnel are not always sanctioned by all elements of the Russian government.”
A statement issued by Kirby today without further explanation said that two Russian diplomats were expelled from the U.S. on June 17.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) stressed today that “attacks on America’s diplomats cannot be tolerated, period.”
“Expelling Russian officials is an appropriate first step,” Royce said. “But the administration must bolster efforts on a number of fronts – including international broadcasting – to confront Vladimir Putin’s continued aggression.”