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(Video Credit: CBC News: The National)
Twelve Russian United Nations diplomats are being expelled from the Russian Diplomatic Compound in New York by March 7th for “espionage activities,” according to a tweet sent out Monday afternoon by Olivia Dalton, who is the spokeswoman for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
“The U.S. has informed the Russian Mission that we are beginning the process of expelling 12 intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission who have abused their privileges of residency in the U.S. by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security,” Dalton tweeted. “We are taking this action in accordance with the headquarters agreement. Today’s action has been in the works for several months.”
Ambassador Richard Mills, deputy representative of the United States to the United Nations, claimed during a UN security meeting on Monday that the so-called diplomats were told to leave due to their alleged engagement in “activities that were not in accordance with their responsibilities and obligations as diplomats.”
CNN is reporting that the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, stated that Mills’ explanation of the expulsions was “not satisfactory.”
The U.S. has informed the Russian Mission that we are beginning the process of expelling 12 intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission who have abused their privileges of residency in the U.S. by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security.
— Olivia Dalton (@USUNSpox) February 28, 2022
“I’ve just received information that the US authorities have undertaken another hostile action against the Russian Mission to the United Nations grossly violating their commitments on the host country agreement that they undertook. They just visited the Russian Mission and gave us a note prescribing us to do what they demand,” Nebenzia asserted.
The compound in the Big Apple houses Russian diplomats, many of whom are alleged “intelligence operatives” deployed to gather information and develop connections in the United States that benefit Russia.
According to Robin Dreeke, a retired FBI special agent and former head of the bureau’s Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program, the diplomats work for the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) or the federation’s military intelligence agency, known as the GRU. The building in New York is known as the “plex.” The spies pose a “symmetrical threat” and have also rented homes in the area to blend in with Americans.
“A lot of people think that spies are just going for the high-level classified military infrastructure kind of stuff,” Dreeke noted, according to Fox News. Aside from that fact, “the real purpose of spying/intelligence collection is filling information gaps that another country has, and mostly to provide their policymakers and decision-makers the knowledge they need that’s not common knowledge that they can get through legitimate means.”
#Nebenzia: [Expulsion of 12 diplomats from @RussiaUN] is sad news and another demonstration of gross disrespect by 🇺🇸to the host country agreement, commitments within the framework of their obligations, both under the #UNCharter, host country agreement and #Vienna conventions. pic.twitter.com/jnEY3keluG
— Russian Mission UN (@RussiaUN) March 1, 2022
White House press secretary Jen Psaki commented at a press briefing addressing the plan to give the Russian diplomats the boot, claiming that it had been “in the works for several months.”
“The United States informed the United Nations and the Russian Mission to the United Nations that we were beginning the process of expelling 12 intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission who had abused their privileges of residency in the United States by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security,” Psaki announced.
“And your response to the Russian Ambassador who called this a hostile act …” one reporter asked.
“I think the hostile act is committing espionage activities on our own soil,” Psaki bluntly replied.
(Video Credit: The AP)
The move is tit for tat in many respects. The Hill reported that Russia ordered all U.S. Embassy staff that had been in the country for more than three years to get out.
That followed the U.S. removing privileges for 27 Russian diplomats and their families after imposing a three-year timeline for diplomats. Russia expelled the No. 2 diplomat from the U.S. from Moscow earlier in February, revoking privileges for Deputy Chief of Mission Bart Gorman.
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