Thursday, May 5, 2011

Big Explosion

Okay, I was going to title this 'Moscow, part 3', but lovely Victoria Caswell pointed out that it was probably my boring titles that were keeping readers away over the past two days. She suggested I spice the title up.

The Russian mafia wasn't the only danger to be faced in Moscow in the '90's. Russians seem to have an odd connection with Serbs, so when the US began bombing the Serbs in 1995, there was clear anger directed at the embassy.

On September 13, 1995 I was working in the old Embassy building on the ring road. I spent most of the morning on the 9th floor, where the executive offices were. I went to lunch and then got sidetracked by some other work. As I began walking back toward the building, I was told that it had been attacked by a rocket propelled grenade. The person didn't know more. I hadn't heard anything, so I continued toward the back entrance. Had I gone to the front, I never would have gotten in, but few people used the back entrance. I came to the door that only the marine guard could open remotely, and I wouldn't have gotten through there either if at that moment a marine hadn't come bareling through it, allowing me to slip in.

I didn't notice anything strange in the building except that it was mostly devoid of people. I went up to finish my work.

Later I heard that a car had raced up on the ring road, a man had jumped out with the RPG and fired it into the 5th or 6th floor (I can't remember which now), and the car raced away. I could see the shrapnel holes in the wall and the hole where the RPG punched through. I was told it struck a large copy machine, and that perhaps the grenade had not detonated. No one was injured, thankfully.

Diplomats have no natural constituency back home to support us. When Congress wants to make cuts, they usually look at us as the easiest target to slash without raising a cry from the US public. The news likes to project an image of diplomats as coddled. They never bother to admit that from the end of the Viet Nam war until the newest wars began, more diplomats were killed overseas than military personnel.


  1. Never knew about the deaths, but you are right about diplomats being more exposed, as are their staff. They live in the city, not in a secure compound.

  2. There are a few secure compounds around, for instance in Moscow, though only a small number of diplomats lived there. Even the compounds have been attacked, though, such as in Saudi Arabia or Istanbul.

  3. Wasn't the titles keeping this reader away for some reason Dashboard isn't showing me your updates regularly! GAHH! Going to have to look into that...


  4. Hmm, I should do a post about all the things I have learned about blogging. I'm sure I still have lots to learn, but I just love using the blog roll; I always know when any new post is out!

  5. Well that title sure got me here, but I'm afraid I'm REALLY naive when it comes to political stuff and am totally in over my head. Would love to contribute something useful but that would take a considerable amount of studying :-/

  6. man! i never knew that about the dangers of being a diplomat! how scary!