Russia accuses U.S. diplomats of trespassing in restricted area

Daria Litvinova

This article, Russia accuses U.S. diplomats of trespassing in restricted area, originally appeared on CBSNews.com

Moscow — Three U.S. diplomats were taken off a train in Northern Russia on Monday and accused of traveling to a restricted area without the necessary permits. They were allegedly caught traveling from the village of Nyonoksa, near a sensitive Russian military test site where there was a , to the town of Severodvinsk, which is also within the area restricted to foreigners, Russia's state-run TASS news agency reported, citing law enforcement sources.

The U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow were quoted by Russian media as saying the diplomats, including U.S. military and naval attaches, were on an official business trip and had properly notified the Russian authorities about it, including the Ministry of Defense.

However, according to Russia's Foreign Ministry, the diplomats declared the city of Arkhangelsk as their destination, which is about 25 miles from Severodvinsk.

"These (diplomats) are the embassy staff, as I understand it, the staff of the military attaché, and they enjoy (diplomatic) immunities," deputy foreign minister Yevgeny Ivanov told reporters on Wednesday. "They indeed notified us about the trip, but the destination was Arkhangelsk. Somehow they ended up near Severodvinsk."

A missile engine with a nuclear power source exploded during a test, killing seven people and causing radiation levels in the area to spike.

U.S. intelligence officials said it was "likely" a failed test of the SSC-X-9 Skyfall missile, known in Russia as the 9M730 Burevestnik. President Vladimir Putin boasted in a 2018 speech about a new, experimental nuclear-powered cruise missile with virtually unlimited range and the ability to penetrate U.S. missile defense systems.

Burevestnik is one of the six new strategic weapons Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in March 2018.

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