-Two U.S. officials told me that the U.S. diplomat was in fact working undercover for the U.S. intelligence community and was seeking refuge inside the U.S. Embassy to avoid being detained by the Russian security services, who had been following him. Russian security services personnel were waiting for him at the embassy guard station, the video shows, according to the officials. He rushed through the guard station and made it onto embassy property, but one FSB guard pursued him into the compound and tackled him to the ground. The diplomat eventually broke free and continued into the embassy building before any other U.S. personnel could come to his aid.
This account, which the State Department declined to confirm, is quite different from the account put forth by the Russian foreign ministry in two separate statements over the past week. On June 30, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that the diplomat jumped out of a taxi with a cap pulled down over his face and refused to show the Russian guards any credentials before elbowing one guard in the face. She also said the Russian government believed the diplomat to be an undercover CIA agent.
Zakharova accused the U.S. government of leaking the story to deliberately undermine U.S.-Russian relations and said the State Department should simply say thank you to the guard for protecting the embassy. On July 6, Zakharova called the story part of a “targeted information campaign” to smear Russia, and said “a banal event in the life of an ordinary employee of the CIA has been transformed by our American colleagues [into a] Russian police assault on [an] innocent American diplomat.”