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U.S. Embassy In Moscow Says Russia Blocking It From Diplomatic Property

Russian police officers enter a guest-house property used by U.S. diplomats for recreation in Moscow's leafy Serebryany Bor district on July 31.

The U.S. embassy in Moscow has accused Russia of blocking its staff from a guest-house property in the Russian capital after authorities previously said they would grant access until August 1 in order for diplomats to take their belongings.

Maria Olson, a spokeswoman for the embassy, told RFE/RL on July 31 that diplomats had been prevented from entering the property in Moscow's leafy Serebryany Bor district as of July 30.

Russia's Foreign Ministry had previously said the embassy would be barred from using the property as of August 1 as part of a broad retaliation against U.S. sanctions that includes an order for Washington to drastically reduce the size of its diplomatic mission.

A Reuters TV cameraman outside the residence saw five vehicles with diplomatic license plates, including a truck, denied entry after arriving at the site.

Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited an unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry official as saying that the embassy had sent vehicles to the property without the necessary permits required due to the residence's location in a conservation area.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on July 30 that the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia must be cut by 755 personnel. His spokesman said later that it would be up to Washington to decide which diplomatic and support staff to cut.

Moscow ordered the reduction after U.S. lawmakers passed a bill that would impose additional sanctions on Russia and prevent President Donald Trump from easing most punitive measures without congressional approval.

With reporting by Reuters, RIA Novosti, and Interfax
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