There are certain territories and enterprises in Russia that are restricted through a special regime that everyone, including diplomats from the United States, are required to comply with, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday, commenting on the detention of US diplomats in one such area in northern Russia earlier this week.
"This is not about the Kremlin. This is about the regime for US diplomats' stay here. You know that there are certain procedures related to the system of notifications, notifications related to trips. And there is also a regime for certain territories, enterprises, which everyone must observe. And there is the work of our respective [security] services that secure this regime," Peskov said.
Initial reports claimed that the diplomats did not have papers authorising their presence in the area. Meanwhile, the US embassy's spokeswoman, Rebecca Ross, pointed out that the diplomats had been on official travel and properly filed the necessary notice with the Russian Defense Ministry.
The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed on Wednesday that the diplomats had been on an official trip, but it did stress that the diplomats had notified the Russian Defense Ministry only of their plans to visit the city Arkhangelsk, not Severodvinsk.
Russian State Secretary - Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Ivanov said on Thursday that Moscow would send a note of protest to the United States over the incident and continue the relevant investigation.
Due to the presence of strategically important military shipyards that have specialised in submarines since the Soviet times, the city of Severodvinsk in Russia's north is restricted to foreign citizens, who need a special permit to enter the area.