Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s answer to a media question about the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the US

July 9, 2016

Question: The US Department of State released a statement saying that they had expelled two Russian diplomats back in June in response to an incident in front of the US Embassy in Moscow. Is this true? How will Russia react?

Sergey Ryabkov
: To begin with, we provided details of the June 6 late night incident at the entrance to the US Embassy on June 30. On that day, a US diplomat or, to be more precise a disguised CIA agent operating under embassy cover, attacked a police guard on duty at the embassy entrance as he was returning from a mission.

On July 7, Russia’s NTV Channel showed a videotape of this incident, where a man in a knit cap pulled low over his eyes (despite the summer heat) jumped from a taxi towards the embassy entrance with no attempt to present his ID. As the police officer rushed to stop him to prevent a possible threat to the diplomatic mission from an unidentified intruder, the attacker elbowed the guard in the face, which is by all standards a criminal offense.

But, no matter how hard it was to deny the obvious, the State Department continues to do just that in a futile attempt to put a brave face on a sorry story. Moreover, Washington has taken steps that will further aggravate bilateral relations, which the Obama Administration has been undermining for over two years with attempts to disrupt the Russian economy and military threats, among other things. I am not even mentioning here the constant pressure brought to bear on the staff of our diplomatic missions both in the US and elsewhere. We are well aware of US pressure on other countries (we receive information to this effect from our partners) to push them to participate in anti-Russian provocations.

I can confirm that the US authorities, with reference to the above incident, have indeed urged two employees of the Russian Embassy in Washington to leave the country, without bringing any charges against them personally. Moreover, a high-ranking State Department official suggested that we haven’t made this fact public. In our experience, it is not common for US diplomats to keep their word.

As our US colleagues are so unusually frank, let me add that their unfriendly gesture was followed by the departure from Moscow of two US embassy employees declared personae non grata for activities incompatible with their diplomatic status. These are the night bully and another CIA operative like him.

We hope that Washington will see how misguided its aggressive anti-Russian line is. But if they decide to continue moving along a path of escalation, an appropriate response will be inevitable.