US bars Russian diplomats from Soviet graves on Alaska base -state media

The cemetery on base requires a permit for entrance.

 Fort Richardson National Cemetery, Fort Richardson (now part of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson), Anchorage, Alaska (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)
Fort Richardson National Cemetery, Fort Richardson (now part of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson), Anchorage, Alaska
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)

US officials barred Russian diplomats from visiting the graves of Soviet servicemen at a cemetery on a military base in Alaska, Russian state agency TASS said on Sunday.

Russia's embassy in Washington said on the Telegram messaging app late on Saturday that a group of Russian diplomats had visited Anchorage on Friday and Saturday.

"Unfortunately, the local American authorities, without explanation, did not allow embassy diplomats to visit the Fort Richardson National Cemetery and kneel before the graves of Soviet pilots and sailors who died in Alaska in 1942-1945," TASS cited Russian diplomat Nadezhda Shumova as saying.

"Attempts to obtain access to the memorials through the State Department were unsuccessful, the diplomatic note of the (Russian) embassy in this regard was ignored."

The State Department did not immediately respond to an email request for comment outside business hours.

 Soldiers from Company B, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, U.S. Army Pacific, move into position for the first-ever live fire exercise with Strykers at Fort Richardson, Alaska. (credit: WIKIMEDIA) Soldiers from Company B, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, U.S. Army Pacific, move into position for the first-ever live fire exercise with Strykers at Fort Richardson, Alaska. (credit: WIKIMEDIA)

The cemetery is difficult to access

A permit is required to access the cemetery on the Fort Richardson US Army installation, according to the cemetery's website.

Russian diplomats have visited the cemetery in the past, the embassy said on Twitter.

Nine Soviet pilots and two other military personnel are buried at the cemetery, TASS said. They died while flying planes from the United States to the Soviet Union as part World War Two Lend-Lease program.

Lend-Lease was an effort, begun before the United States joined the war, to supply allies with materiel deemed vital to the defense of the United States.