US diplomats evacuate confiscated summerhouse in Moscow

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Moscow, Aug 1 (IANS) Three trucks, a minibus, a jeep and a taxicab left the summerhouse of the US Embassy here in evacuation on Tuesday, as a result of escalating diplomatic tensions between the US and Russia.

“The last two employees to leave the property in Moscow’s prestigious compound of Serebryany Bor hung a lock on the gates,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted its correspondent who witnessed the departure as saying, Xinhua reported.

On Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow would suspend the use of a warehouse and the summerhouse by the US Embassy staff from August 1, as part of retaliation to a new sanction bill passed by Washington and the expulsion of Russian diplomats and seizure of two Russian diplomatic properties in the US in December.

On Monday, the US Embassy complained that it was denied access to the summerhouse from Sunday.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained earlier on Tuesday that the problems US diplomats encountered were due to a ban on the entry by large transport vehicles to the territory of the compound.

“The Americans simply did not bother to inform the Moscow department of environmental protection in advance… that they were going to send three large trucks there,” a source said, adding that cargo vehicles are not allowed in Serebryanny Bor, which is considered a nature reserve.

Tensions between Moscow and Washington have flared up since both chambers of the US Congress approved a bill slapping tougher sanctions on Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday announced Moscow’s decision to reduce the US diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 people, including US and Russian nationals, by September 1.

–IANS

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