Pentagon investigated Russian ‘energy attacks’ on US troops

Ambassador to Russia John J. Sullivan gets into a car outside Spaso House, the Residence of the US Ambassador in Moscow.

US Ambassador leaves Moscow for meeting with Biden after Putin expelled diplomats and amid reports the Pentagon investigated Russian-backed ‘energy attacks’ on US troops

  • Ambassador John Sullivan is returning to Washington 
  • Russia sent him home for ‘consultations’ following new U.S. sanctions 
  • Sanctions were in response to SolwarWinds hack, Russia’s treatment of opposition leader Navalny, and election interference
  • Pentagon leaders briefed lawmakers on alleged directed-energy attacks
  • ‘Energy attacks’ were on U.S. forces in Syria 
  • U.S. diplomats in Havana reported mysterious symptoms in 2017 

U.S. ambassador to Russia John Sullivan left Moscow for consultations in Washington Thursday in the latest move in a tense diplomatic standoff with Moscow.

Sullivan, a holdover nominee from the Trump administration, left Moscow after the Kremlin said Washington should recall him amid the growing diplomatic crisis – which comes after the U.S. slapped new sanctions on Russians close to President Vladimir Putin, and Russia amassed 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine.

Russia’s Tass news agency reported he departed Thursday. 

Ambassador to Russia John J. Sullivan gets into a car outside Spaso House, the Residence of the US Ambassador in Moscow.

The U.S. embassy announced this week Sullivan would return to Washington for talks this week after Moscow recalled its ambassador to the U.S.

‘I believe it is important for me to speak directly with my new colleagues in the Biden administration in Washington about the current state of bilateral relations between the United States and Russia,’ Sullivan said in a brief statement. 

Adding yet another layer to the tensions, Pentagon officials have briefed lawmakers on directed-energy attacks on U.S. troops that Defense Department officials believe were carried out by Russia.

Lawmakers were briefed on injuries sustained by U.S. troops in Syria, Politico reported. It was not clear how many U.S. forces may have been involved.

Pentagon began investigating the attacks last year, amid concern the alleged attacks had parallels to mysterious attacks on U.S. diplomats in Havana, where diplomatic staff complained of hearing loss, headaches, and other symptoms. 

Multiple government agencies have been looking at such directed-energy attacks, which can involve microwave devices and use of high-powered radio waves.

The latest stunning claim of Russian efforts to harm U.S. forces comes after the administration dialed back accusations that Moscow offered bounties for killings of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and the U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan shake hands during a ceremony to receive credentials from newly appointed foreign ambassadors to Russia in Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and the U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan shake hands during a ceremony to receive credentials from newly appointed foreign ambassadors to Russia in Kremlin

A US fighting armored vehicle takes part in a patrol near the Rumaylan (Rmeilan) oil fields in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on October 5, 2020. The Pentagon briefed lawmakers on possible directed energy attacks on U.S. troops it attributes to Russia

A US fighting armored vehicle takes part in a patrol near the Rumaylan (Rmeilan) oil fields in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province, on October 5, 2020. The Pentagon briefed lawmakers on possible directed energy attacks on U.S. troops it attributes to Russia

US troops in Syria were given new tanks, more jet fighter cover and hunter killer drones after a ramming incident with a Russian armored vehicle

US troops in Syria were given new tanks, more jet fighter cover and hunter killer drones after a ramming incident with a Russian armored vehicle

Road trip: A car of the US diplomatic mission leaves Spaso House, the Residence of the US Ambassador in Moscow. US Ambassador to Russia John J. Sullivan is departing for Washington, D.C. to meet the family and the staff of President Joe Biden's Administration. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)

Road trip: A car of the US diplomatic mission leaves Spaso House, the Residence of the US Ambassador in Moscow. US Ambassador to Russia John J. Sullivan is departing for Washington, D.C. to meet the family and the staff of President Joe Biden’s Administration. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)

 U.S. intelligence has ‘low to moderate confidence’ in reports of the bounties that emerged last year, the administration revealed as it rolled out new sanctions on Russians and Russian entities last week in retaliation for the SolarWinds hack, Russian election interference, and the treatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Navalny is currently undergoing a hunger strike while being held in a Russian prison, after returning to the country after suffering an apparent poison attack with the nerve agent Novichok.  

Russia recalled its ambassador to Washington last week, amid outrage after President Biden in an interview with ABC referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a ‘killer.’

Russia recalled its own ambassador to Washington last month after Biden said he thought his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was a ‘killer.’ 

Russian troops began returning to basis following massive demonstrations in Crimea, which prompted warnings from Ukraine and the U.S. and allies. The move followed massive drills in Crimea around territory Russia seized in 2014, prompting sanctions from the U.S. and Europe.  The exercises involved thousands of Russian troops and hundreds of warplanes. 

Nearly 100,000 Russian troops are believed to have massed at the Ukrainian border. 

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