It appears US diplomats in Russia will be spending less time trying to smooth relations with that country and more time circling the block after Moscow revoked diplomatic parking privileges in two cities, the AP reports. According to a report from Russian state-owned TV, officials painted over parking spots outside the US Consulate in St. Petersburg, turning them into a pedestrian crossing. They also removed special parking signs from outside the US Consulate in Yekaterinburg. Vice, citing a Russian newspaper, reports Russian officials are also considering removing special diplomatic parking spaces near the US Embassy in Moscow. Moscow is said to be the third worst city in Europe for drivers, and New York reports St. Petersburg isn't far behind at seventh.
The removal of diplomatic parking spots follows Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying on Monday that Russia is seeking "full parity" between Russian and US diplomatic missions. The Russian envoy in the US doesn't get reserved parking. But really this is just the latest volley in a diplomatic spat that started with Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election, following which the US seized Russian compounds in New York and Maryland and booted dozens of Russian diplomats. Russia retaliated by reducing US diplomatic staff by 755 positions. Last month the US closed a Russian consulate and two annexes. In addition to making US diplomats hunt for parking, Russia is considering domestic travel restrictions, staff reductions, and fewer points of entry into the country for US diplomats.