While extracting Ethan Hunt, unidentified assailants rain bullets on the car in which Ethan, William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and the Secretary (IMF) are traveling. One of the bullets hits the Secretary in the head, killing him instantly.

I am puzzled, because killing a diplomat from another country would be usually considered an Act of Aggression or even worse, an Act of War against the diplomat's country. But in the movie there were no repercussions mentioned from the USA. Even though tensions were running high between the two nations due to the Kremlin bombing, it couldn't have been reason enough to massacre a diplomatic convoy.

Is this a simple plot hole which I'm reading too much into or is there some International Law in play that I am unaware of?


  1. I am considering the Secretary as a diplomat as he mentions in the car that "yesterday I came to Moscow to accept the Order of Peace...". This indicates that he was on an official diplomatic mission.

  2. The assailants though unidentified can be easily linked to the Russian police/military/special forces as the person who had detained Ethan in the hospital was later seen issuing orders to them.

  • 1
    While note 2 might be obvious for Ethan, are you sure the officials could also draw that connection?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 14:25
  • @ChristianRau: Nonetheless! A diplomat killed on a busy city street, car riddled with bullet holes. I see all fingers pointing towards the Government.
    – Sayan
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 14:32
  • 5
    Another possibility is, that we're just not shown the political theatre following this incident, since we have to concentrate on Ethan and his adventures. Yet I have to admit that it's quite some time since I saw the movie.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 14:38

3 Answers 3


The secretary was in Moscow for the official ceremony. But following that, his activities and meeting with Ethan Hunt was classified and secret.

  1. I'm guessing he was not supposed to be there in Kremlin. So if he was killed, then the Government would have to explain what he was still doing there.
  2. The assailants got rid of the body later on, which only made it nearly impossible to accuse or follow up on what had happened
  3. The entire IMF had just been disvowed. That meant that every IMF member was no longer on the official employee list. Hence no claims for anybody in IMF to be a diplomat.
  4. Russia had already declared the bombing as an act of war. With the primary suspicsion being on Ethan Hunt. Also, since Ghost Protocol had been activated, Ethan and his team were made responsible for the bombing. At such times, the IMF members were internationally wanted.
  5. Tensions in Russia also would have prevented pressure from the US Government about any sensitive issue.
  • All in all, the scenarios are pretty much plausible and make sense too, except for #3 and 4. Its correct that the IMF had been disavowed, but that does not negate the fact that a senior US official (who incidentally was the Secretary of IMF) flew from US to Russia and never came back! Secondly, the statement Russia had already declared the bombing as an act of war is incorrect. Russia officially stated that it was a gas explosion and not an attack.
    – Sayan
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 8:46
  • Would be great to add the secretary was not officially in Moscow any longer. Upon first greeting Ethan in the car he says that officially he had already flown home. Since the secretary wasn't officially there he couldn't have been officially killed there.
    – Ed T
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 19:37

I believe that the IMF (Impossible Missions Force, not the International Monetary Fund) had already been disavowed (by activating the Ghost Protocol) by the US government when the secretary was killed.

The Russians were operating under the belief that the IMF was responsible for the Kremlin bombing and, with the USA cutting the IMF off (which only served to confirm Russian suspicions), treated them as terrorists/spies/enemies of the state.

There were no public repercussions from the USA as they wanted to distance themselves from the IMF.

  • 1
    yea but still... that doesn't explain why there were no repercussions for killing the secretary of state, imf or otherwise
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 9:09

I guess, it was like quid pro quo between the two governments. The secretary was not supposed to be in Moscow at that time. And the diplomat died. Both the governments probably agreed to simply sweep it under the rug.

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