September 24, 2023

WASHINGTON. On a heat June night, Benjamin Wittes sat on the card desk throughout the road from the Russian embassy in Washington, beginning his mild present.

Numerous wires and tools had been woven round it, together with a laptop computer and two highly effective mild projectors. Certainly one of them shone on the white facade of the embassy with an enormous blue and yellow Ukrainian flag.

This was just the start. “We now have a bit essay that we will write, line by line, in three languages,” mentioned Mr. Witts, a outstanding nationwide safety regulation professional. “We’re speaking about stolen kids. By the top of the night time, he was broadcasting profanity in Ukrainian about Russian President Vladimir Putin onto the towering embassy constructing.

Mr. Wittes and his mates have been protecting the embassy each few weeks because the warfare in Ukraine broke out final yr. This clearly offends the Russians. That night time, the Russians tried to cowl up his projections with their very own, together with two big white Z’s, the nationalist Russian image of army motion.

In the future final spring, a Russian searchlight chased the Ukrainian flag throughout the embassy’s facade in a farcical cat-and-mouse sport that has since been seen thousands and thousands of occasions on the Web. In April, a burly man in denims and a Baltimore Orioles T-shirt walked out of the embassy and silently closed Mr. Wittes’s projectors, holding an open umbrella in every hand.

“They’re going to warfare with us within the highlight,” Mr. Wittes mentioned. “It is actually fairly infantile.”

It is also a wierd new regular round Russia’s high diplomatic submit in the USA, a scene of near-constant protests, spy video games and normal oddities, as probably the most hostile relationship between the USA and Russia in many years performs out within the coronary heart of Washington. . 1000’s of miles from the entrance in Ukraine, the embassy complicated has turn into its personal warfare zone.

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