US & Canada

Russian 'harassment' of US diplomats on rise

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Harassment against US diplomats by Russian security and intelligence services is on the rise, US officials say.

The issue has become so pressing that it has been raised directly with President Vladimir Putin, a US Department of State spokeswoman said.

The problems began two years ago following US-imposed sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, she added.

Specific incidents have not officially been revealed.

But the Washington Post said they included breaking into the homes of embassy staff, rearranging furniture and even killing a family pet.

No official response has been made by Russia but a statement to the Post did not deny the charge and said there had been US provocation against Russian diplomats.

The former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, told the newspaper that while his family was living in Moscow they were routinely followed by security services that wanted him to know they were being watched.

He said that incidents increased after the US and European Union imposed sanctions on Russian leaders following the annexation of Crimea and ongoing Russian involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

"After the invasion of Ukraine, it got much, much worse," Mr McFaul told the newspaper.

"We were feeling embattled out there in the embassy," he said.

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