Russia has imposed Soviet-style restrictions on British diplomats, requiring them to give at least five working days’ notice of any intention to travel beyond a 75-mile radius, due to what it accuses of “hostile actions” by London, Reuters reports.
Great Britain has been one of the most vocal supporters of international opposition to Russian intervention in Ukraine and one of the main Western suppliers of arms to Ukraine.
Britain’s top officials in Russia were summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday, condemned by Moscow for supporting Ukraine’s “terrorist activities” and obstructing Russian diplomacy in Britain.
“In response to London’s hostile actions, the British side was informed of the decision to introduce a notification procedure for the movement of employees of British diplomatic missions across the border of our country”, announced the ministry headed by Sergey Lavrov, News.ro.
The restrictions would subject British diplomats to the same strict restrictions they experienced in Moscow during the Soviet era, when foreign travel was strictly prohibited and closely controlled by the KGB security service.
Therefore, British consular officers, except the ambassador and three other senior diplomats, must give at least five working days’ written notice of any plans to travel beyond the 120 kilometer “free movement zone”.
“Such a document must contain information on time, purpose, type of travel, planned business contacts, accompanying persons, type of transport, places of visit and accommodation, and route of travel,” the Russian ministry said.
Diplomatic work in Moscow is now considered one of the most difficult in the world in the West. The US State Department ranks Moscow along with Freetown, Mogadishu, Damascus and Kabul in terms of difficulties, Reuters notes.
Western diplomats in Moscow say intrusive surveillance and harassment are common, and the so-called “Moscow Rules,” a guide drawn up by Western spies during the Soviet era to protect themselves, have been updated for modern Russia.
For its part, Russia has long complained that its own diplomats are routinely harassed in major Western capitals. In May, Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to Washington, said that embassy staff were threatened with physical violence and were often approached near the embassy to work for the Central Intelligence Agency or the Central Intelligence Agency.
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