Russia accuses three U.S. embassy staff of theft, asks for lifting of their immunity

National flags of Russia and the U.S. fly at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, Russia.

Russia has asked the U.S. embassy in Moscow to lift the diplomatic immunity of three of its staff suspected of stealing things from a Russian citizen, the Interfax news agency quoted the foreign ministry as saying on Friday.

If the United States refused to lift their diplomatic immunity, the three employees would have to leave Russia immediately, the foreign ministry was cited as saying.

Earlier this week the Russian foreign ministry said a U.S. congressional proposal to expel 300 Russian diplomats from the United States would lead to the closure of U.S. diplomatic facilities in Russia, if implemented.

U.S. Democratic and Republican senators urged President Joe Biden on Tuesday to expel Russian diplomats if Moscow did not issue more visas for Americans to represent Washington in Russia.

Interfax, citing a source with Russia’s law enforcement, reported earlier on Friday that three U.S. citizens from the Moscow embassy under the influence of alcohol stole a backpack from a Russian national on September 18.

The Moscow police identified the three men as servicemen of the U.S. Marine Corps aged 21 to 26, Interfax reported, citing police spokesman Vladimir Vasenin.

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