The US diplomats in Russia have been denied access to a diplomatic recreational compound in Moscow for two days, the US Embassy in Moscow has said.
“We have not been given access to the facility neither yesterday, nor today. We spoke about this to Russian officials and will do it tomorrow,” US Embassy spokeswoman Maria Olson told RIA Novosti news agency on Monday, Xinhua reported.
Olson said that the US diplomatic personnel were supposed to have access to the compound until noon on Tuesday in accordance with previous notification.
Earlier on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow would suspend the use of a warehouse and a dacha in Moscow’s prestigious district of Serebryany Bor by the US Embassy from August 1, which was part of retaliation to a new sanctions bill passed in the US Congress.
According to a source in the ministry, the accusation by the US Embassy was a “deliberate provocation”, as the diplomats were actually barred due to vehicle management.
“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,” the source told RIA Novosti, adding that cargo vehicles are not allowed in Serebryanny Bor, which is considered a nature reserve.
Tensions between Moscow and Washington have flared of late 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 diplomatic staff of the US in Russia by 755 people.
Earlier on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Washington will be left to decide on the name list of employees of its diplomatic missions in Russia to dismiss, which could be both US and Russian nationals.