Vladimir Putin is paying back the US for what he says is its "insolence" in approving new sanctions against Russia, kicking American diplomats out of the country by September and shuttering the US Embassy's recreational compound (aka "dacha") just outside Moscow. That payback apparently includes not letting the diplomats get their stuff out first, per Reuters, which reports that a news agency cameraman spotted five vehicles sporting diplomatic license plates drive up to the retreat Monday, only to be turned away. "The US mission to Russia was supposed to have access to our dacha until noon on August 1," an Embassy spokeswoman says, citing an agreement with the Russian government. "We have not had access all day today or yesterday. We refer you to the Russian government to explain why not."
The Russian government doesn't deny the deadline, but it's taking issue with the US' side of things. Per the RIA state news agency, a Russian foreign ministry rep says the property—which the Moscow Times describes as a "2,000-square-meter warehouse in an industrial area"—is in a conservation area, and so the trucks used by the Americans can't enter without proper permits (the official says three of those vehicles were industrial-sized cargo trucks, per RT.com). The official also scoffs at the suggestion Russia was flat-out barring the US from the dacha, noting that assertion was a "premeditated provocation." Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft gathered all Moscow Embassy staff to inform them of Russia's decision, which includes slashing 755 roles at US diplomatic missions. "The atmosphere was like a funeral," one unnamed source said, per the Independent. (Read more US Embassy stories.)