Russia locks out U.S. diplomatic staff from a Moscow property

The U.S. Embassy accused the Russian government of locking its diplomatic staff out of a property in Moscow, after agreeing to grant access till Midday Tuesday for them to retrieve their personal belongings, Reuters reports.

In a statement, a Russian foreign ministry official said the U.S. Embassy had sent trucks in without obtaining compulsory permits which are required by law because the property is located in a conservation area. This follows the orders  Russian President Vladimir Putin gave Sunday, for the 755 U.S. diplomats to leave Russia.

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Russia has said they are taking the property back in response to the United States approved stronger sanctions against Russians. According to reports from a Reuters TV cameraman outside the property, five vehicles with diplomatic license plates and a truck were denied entry int0 the premises.

A spokeswoman for the embassy said: “In line with the Russian government notification, the U.S. Mission to Russia was supposed to have access to our dacha until noon on Aug. 1. We have not had access all day today or yesterday, we refer you to the Russian government to explain why not”.

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A RIA news agency cited an unidentified Russian foreign ministry official saying the Americans were at fault for not getting the required permits, and that accusing Russia of blocking access is a “pre-meditated provocation”.

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