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26 Nov, 2008 10:44

US convoy rams Russian diplomats off road in Baghdad

A row is brewing between Moscow and Washington after a US military vehicle almost ran a Russian diplomatic car off the road in Baghdad. Russia has accused the American soldiers of deliberately swerving into the car as it headed towards the airport.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said three diplomats and some of their guards suffered bruises.

The incident happened when a group of US armoured personnel carriers overtook a three-strong convoy of Russian diplomatic vehicles on the main highway from Baghdad to the airport.

A spokesman for US forces in Baghdad said they were looking into the incident.

The American vehicles were reported to be driving at more than 100kmh when they overtook the Russian convoy.

Russian news agency Itar-Tass reports that three bullet-proof vehicles from the Russian embassy with three Russian diplomats and their seven bodyguards were making their way along a highway from the so-called “green zone” to the international airport of Baghdad when the incident happened.

The Russian column was advancing at a speed of 80-90kmh in the middle of the highway, leaving the left-hand lane free for passing vehicles.

It’s reported that the American military motorcade advanced from behind without any warning signals.  Moscow says the Russian vehicles bore even more to the right to let the military vehicles pass.

According to Russian accounts, the lead US APC swerved sharply, making contact with the first Russian car, forcing it off the road.  

The Russian car was forced to stop on the hard shoulder. Those inside suffered bruises and other minor injuries.

Then the US army column went on without stopping.

Moscow has already condemned the actions as aggressive and unacceptable.

Iraqi officials in Baghdad agree that the American servicemen’s behaviour was intolerable.

The Foreign Ministry has already demanded that the US conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and punish any transgressors.

A spokesman in Moscow said: “Russia reserves the right to claim material and moral damage from the American troops, including possible health claims from injured Russian officials”.