WASHINGTON — On a heat June night time, Benjamin Wittes was seated at a card desk throughout the road from the Russian Embassy in Washington, kicking off his gentle present.
Assembled round him was a sprawl of wires and gear, together with a laptop computer and two highly effective gentle projectors. One in every of them was beaming an enormous blue and yellow Ukrainian flag onto the embassy’s white facade.
That was just the start. “We’ve obtained just a little essay we’re going to challenge, line by line, in three languages,” stated Mr. Wittes, a outstanding nationwide safety regulation professional. “It’s about stolen kids.” By the tip of the night time, he was beaming a Ukrainian-language profanity about President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia onto the towering embassy construction.
Mr. Wittes and his buddies have been lighting up the embassy as soon as each few weeks for the reason that battle in Ukraine started final 12 months. It’s clearly getting below the Russians’ pores and skin. On this night time, the Russians had been attempting to blot out his projections with ones of their very own, together with two big white Z’s — a nationalist Russian image of the battle effort.
As soon as, final spring, a Russian highlight chased a Ukrainian flag throughout the embassy facade in a slapstick cat-and-mouse sport that has since been watched hundreds of thousands of instances on-line. In April, a burly man in denims and a Baltimore Orioles T-shirt emerged from the embassy and silently obstructed Mr. Wittes’s projectors with an open umbrella in every hand.
“They get into highlight wars with us,” Mr. Wittes stated. “It’s actually fairly juvenile.”
It is usually the strange new normal around Russia’s main diplomatic outpost in the US, a scene of near-constant protests, spy video games and normal weirdness as essentially the most hostile relations in a long time between the US and Russia play out within the coronary heart of Washington. Hundreds of miles from the entrance in Ukraine, the embassy compound has turn into a battle zone of its personal.