The Slatest

Russian Spies Apparently Killed a U.S. Diplomat’s Dog

Secretary of State John Kerry and then-Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul in Moscow’s Red Square on May 7, 2013. (To be clear, neither Kerry nor McFaul were the diplomat whose dog was targeted.)

Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

There’s a column in the Washington Post on Monday about Russian harassment of U.S. diplomats in Moscow and other European capitals. One of the episodes described is particularly disturbing:

In the first term of the Obama administration, Russian intelligence personnel broke into the house of the U.S. defense attache in Moscow and killed his dog, according to multiple former officials who read the intelligence reports.

The Post’s Josh Rogin writes that harassment has gotten more common since the Ukrainian civil/proxy war began in 2014. Among the other invasive/creepy tactics mentioned:


  • “following diplomats or their family members”
  • “showing up at social events uninvited”
  • breaking into homes and rearranging furniture

Also, “one diplomat reported that an intruder had defecated on his living room carpet.”

The purpose of this kind of behavior, apparently, is to intimidate diplomats out of poking around too closely into what the Russians in their region of interest are getting up to. The U.S. has formally protested the harassment, and a number of Russian officials are themselves targeted by U.S. sanctions; reading between the lines, though, it seems like many diplomats wish the White House and State Department would respond more assertively in their defense.

Former Russia Ambassador Michael McFaul notes that direct eye-for-an-eye retaliation has been ruled out:

There was a debate inside the Obama administration about how to respond, and ultimately President Obama made the decision not to respond with similar measures against Russian diplomats, McFaul said.

I mean, with the dog and the living-room defecation thing, I would hope not.