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US diplomats were removed from a train while travelling through a restricted area in Russia, which houses important military sites for the Navy. Moscow confirmed that they were on an official visit, but ended up in a wrong place.
It was reported that Americans were travelling from the northern city of Nenoksa to Severodvinsk on Monday. Diplomats are said to include an American naval attache and two other military attachés.
As one could have already prepared for a spy thriller, the US embassy confirmed the incident. However, he dismissed allegations that the staff violated the rules. The US mission said the group was on an official visit, authorized by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The Russian Foreign Ministry had no objections to that part of the story.
“We fully confirm the comment of the embassy of the United States,” reads a statement. But Moscow had a bone to choose from with the claim that the visit, as it was, was approved by the Ministry of Defense.
According to the Russian side, US diplomats simply asked the Ministry of Defense for permission to travel to the city of Arkhangelsk and not to Severodvinsk. The communities are located about 45 kilometers from each other. That said, Moscow also tried to add some humour to the story.
Apparently, they were lost. We are ready to present a map of the Russian Federation to the United States embassy.
Severodvinsk has an important shipyard for the Northern Russian Fleet, in addition to housing a base for nuclear-powered submarines. Meanwhile, Nenoksa is home to a secret military testing ground that has recently generated more than a few international and local headlines.
In August, a prototype missile engine with an “isotopic energy source” exploded during the trials, killing five people. The unfortunate evidence caused rumours of “radiation leakage,” while the tabloids quickly called the incident a “new Chernobyl.”
The Russian Ministry of Defense denied the alleged leak and refuted the reports of a major nuclear cleaning operation.
Earlier this year, former Norwegian border guard Frode Berg received a prison sentence of 14 years in Russia for collecting secret data on submarines and “damaging the defensive capabilities of the Russian Federation.” The Norwegian citizen, who was acting on behalf of the intelligence country: was arrested for the first time by Russian counterintelligence operatives in 2017.