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Kremlin castigates US over attempts to recruit Russian embassy staff

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian embassy in Washington, US. (Photo by AFP)

Russia has castigated the US government for its attempts to recruit staff in the Russian embassy in Washington to work against their government, calling it “unacceptable”.

Russia’s envoy to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, told state media that embassy employees had repeatedly been threatened with physical violence, or frequently badgered in the vicinity of the embassy to work for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in his remarks on Monday said they “share the concerns” of the embassy staff over what he called the “brazen behavior” of the American spy agencies.

“We do share the concerns of the head of our diplomatic mission in the United States about the really rather brazen behavior of the American intelligence agencies in relation to our citizens and to the employees of our mission,” he said, calling it “unacceptable”.

The anti-Russia moves have seen an alarming rise in the US since the Kremlin launched a military operation in Ukraine in late February.

The operation was announced following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

The US and its NATO allies have thrown their weight behind Ukraine, slapping unprecedented sanctions on Moscow in a bid to pressure it to abandon its operation in the former Soviet republic.

They have also aided Kiev with sophisticated military equipment, which has prolonged the conflict in Ukraine, according to observers.

In its latest attempt to provoke Russia, the Biden administration is set to approve a package of $40 billion for the crisis-stricken country.

The US Senate voted on the plan on Monday, setting the stage for a vote on the bill possibly later this week. The tally was 81 to 11 on the first of a potential three procedural votes paving the way for the final Senate passage of the funding.

US tests hypersonic weapon

Meanwhile, the US has tested a new hypersonic weapon, despite its stiff opposition to Russian or North Korean hypersonic missiles.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the US Air Force announced that it successfully conducted the test on Saturday off the coast of Southern California when a B-52 bomber released an Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW).

“Following separation from the aircraft, the ARRW's booster ignited and burned for the expected duration, achieving hypersonic speeds five times greater than the speed of sound,” it said.

US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said last year that the US and China are engaged in an arms race to develop the most lethal hypersonic weapons.

“There is an arms race, not necessarily for increased numbers, but for increased quality,” Kendall said. “It's an arms race that has been going on for quite some time. The Chinese have been at it very aggressively.”

Hypersonic weapons travel in the upper atmosphere at speeds of more than five times the speed of sound, or about 6,200 kilometers per hour.


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