21:43 GMT +322 March 2019
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    Provocations of US Security Services Toward Russian Diplomats 'Common Practice'

    © AFP 2019 / Mario TAMA
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    Provocative actions of the US security services toward Russian diplomats in the country have become common practice, First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov said Wednesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – On January 17, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recounted during his big press conference several instances where Russian diplomats have been pressured by US intelligence services. He noted the growth of active attempts to recruit Russian diplomats over the past years, including an April 2016 incident in Washington involving a Russian Embassy minister counselor.

    He said Russian diplomats saw attempts by US agents to recruit them spike last April. The Russian minister counselor was approached, Lavrov said, while another senior diplomat found $10,000 in cash and a note offering cooperation in his car.

    "Provocative actions of the US security services toward our employees in the United States have unfortunately become common practice. It is not a secret that similar campaigns are being organized with US backing or by the US security services themselves in third countries," Titov told the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.

    Later, the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman said that US intelligence services undertook another attempt at recruiting a Russian diplomat on January 14, just a week before President Barack Obama's departure from the White House.

    Russia will try to resolve the situation with access to two diplomatic real estate objects in Maryland and New York with the new US administration, Vladimir Titov said.

    In December, then-US President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia, including the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and the closure of two Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York. It introduced new sanctions against six Russian individuals and five entities over Moscow's alleged interference in the November US presidential election, which the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

    "Seeing as the decision of the former US leadership was clearly political, we shall try to resolve the situation in dialogue with the new authorities, but we do not rule out other options," Titov told the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.

    The first deputy foreign minister stressed that the diplomatic property is legally immune and any attempts to confiscate it violate the international law.

    "An attempt to confiscate our property seriously violates the international law and even the US national law. We are talking not only about the failure to comply with the Vienna Convention [on Diplomatic Relations] but an infringement of the private property rights," Titov stressed.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin abstained from any countermeasures against this round of sanctions.


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