(CNN) – Russia is angrily denying allegations that it was behind the possible drugging of two U.S. diplomats at a Russian bar.
The allegations only spiking tensions between the U.S. and Russia. Tensions between Washington and the kremlin are at one of their most dangerous points since the cold war. Vladimir Putin’s government is furious, over an incendiary story by a U.S. government-funded news agency.
Radio free Europe-radio liberty reports two U.S. officials with diplomatic passports were drugged last year in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The report cites a U.S. government official, saying the two people were slipped a date-rape drug at a bar and one of them had to seek treatment at a clinic. The state department inquired about the alleged incident with the Russians.
Mark Toner, State Department Deputy Spokesman said, “We are looking into it, we are investigating it, just as we would any credible allegation.”
The Russians are outraged over the allegation. The deputy foreign minister says Russian investigators responded quickly but didn’t get the specifics they asked for, from the U.S. embassy or even the victims’ names.
In a statement the minister says, quote, “At the time no Americans had sought treatment at any St. Petersburg medical institutions. If they had just been boozing at a hotel bar, they have only themselves to blame.”
The state department has ramped-up its complaints about what it says is a pattern of intimidation toward America’s diplomats in Russia.
Mark Toner said, “Apartments broken into, you know evidence left behind that people were in the apartment of our diplomats. This kind of stuff.”
The Washington post reported this summer that U.S. diplomats in Russia had furniture re-arranged in their homes and said one diplomat reported someone defecated on his living room floor.
In June, an American diplomat was tackled by a Russian guard, as he tried to enter the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
The kremlin said the guard was doing his job, protecting the embassy from a potential threat. U.S. officials say the harassment has gotten more intense since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.
Peter Zwack was the top military official at the U.S. embassy in Moscow then.
Brig. Gen. Peter Zwack, National Defense University said, “Everywhere that we went we had a sense that they knew where we were, we were being surveilled. You can have this feeling of constant, very nervous tension.”
If Putin’s government is harassing American diplomats, what’s his message?
Matthew Rojansky, Woodrow Wilson Center said, “That there aren’t any rules anymore. That you America have declared economic war on us, political war, you’re isolating us, you’re punishing us, and you’re signaling to us that you don’t have to take us seriously. So we’re going to use whatever weapons we have, asymmetric if necessary, to up the temperature.”
Meantime, Russian officials are now saying the same thing happens to their diplomats in the U.S. Accusing U.S. security services of taking what they call “unacceptable measures” against Russian officials. The state department denies the allegations.