- Guard seen wrestling with alleged CIA agent at embassy’s door
- Video appears to contradict Russian Foreign Ministry’s version
Russian television broadcast footage of a policeman tackling a man the report said was an undercover CIA agent trying to enter the U.S. embassy in Moscow without identifying himself.
In the grainy, approximately 15-second clip, the man exits a taxi and is almost immediately tackled by a policeman who emerges from a guard box and wrestles him to the ground. In the ensuing struggle, the man manages to push himself through a door into the embassy compound, while the officer attempts to pin him down.
The incident, which took place at night on June 6, was caught on a security camera, according to the report shown Thursday on Russia’s NTV channel. The channel didn’t describe how it obtained the footage.
Russian-U.S. relations have deteriorated to a level not seen since the Cold War as the two powers find themselves on opposite sides of conflicts from Ukraine to Syria. In a sign of worsening ties, Moscow and Washington are boosting troop levels that face off against each other on Russia’s borders with the Baltic states, which are all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The footage of the skirmish contradicts a version of the incident given by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Its spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said in a website statement June 30 that the diplomat punched the police officer after he was stopped and asked for identification.
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow declined to comment on the confrontation, which was first reported in the Washington Post on June 29. The newspaper said that the guard was a member of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, citing unidentified U.S. officials.
Harassment of U.S. diplomats in Moscow has increased significantly over the last two years, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said in a June 27 press briefing. Secretary of State John Kerry has raised the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, she said.
Russia, which said the U.S. diplomat involved in the incident was an undercover CIA agent, accused Washington of “disinformation” and seeking to spoil mutual relations with a “provocation.” The Foreign Ministry’s statement warned that “nothing good’ would come from this approach.