In response to the 6 June attack on a US diplomat in Moscow, US authorities have expelled two Russian officials on 17 June, State Department spokesman John Kirby said. He added that the attack was "unprovoked" and Russian claims that the policeman who tackled the diplomat to the ground was protecting the embassy from an unidentified individual is "simply untrue".
Kirby said that the country wants to deal with the issue of harassment of US diplomats in Russia through private government-level talks. He added that the latest incident was raised immediately by Secretary of State John Kerry with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on 7 June, the very next day of the incident.
Addressing reporters on Friday (8 July) during the department's daily press briefing session, Kirby said that amid false Russian claims about the 6 June incident, he wanted to clarify that an accredited US diplomat was attacked by a Russian policeman while entering the American embassy compound, despite having identified himself in accordance with embassy protocol. "The action was unprovoked and it endangered the safety of our employee. The Russian claim the policeman was protecting the embassy from an unidentified individual is simply untrue," Kirby noted.
Kirby did not give any details about the condition of the diplomat, who was said to have sustained some injuries in the scuffle. He also said that no investigation, as of now, is underway into the incident.
On the diplomatic relations between the two countries Kirby said the 6 June incident "comes on the heels of two years of increasing diplomatic harassment by Russian authorities that is also unprovoked and unnecessary". He said that the harassment cases against US personnel in Russia are an effort "to disrupt our diplomatic and consular operations". However, Washington has already privately urged the Russian government to stop such practices. The "safety and well-being" of US diplomatic and consular personnel abroad and their accompanying family members "are things we take very, very seriously", Kirby added.
"And as I said I think a week or so ago, Russian claims that they're getting harassed here are simply without foundation. So you want to have a conversation about in-kind treatment, it's time for Russia to treat our diplomats with – in the same manner in which they're treated here when they come to the United States.
"And as for the broader relationship, the – our relationship with Russia is complicated, and we certainly don't see eye to eye on everything. There are areas where we have in the past and I think we'll continue to seek cooperation with them, such as on Syria and the political process there. There are obviously still areas where there's tension; Ukraine and Minsk implementation is one of them, and certainly this," Kirby said.