12 Russian Diplomats at UN Mission to Get Expelled from US for Spying

In a step that will further deteriorate US-Russia diplomatic relations, Washington ordered on Monday the expulsion of 12 diplomats from Russia’s Mission to the United Nations for engaging in “espionage activities” that are harmful to US national security, a spokeswoman for the US Mission to the UN announced.

US Mission to the UN spokesperson Olivia Dalton said that the US is beginning the process of expelling the intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission for abusing their privileges of residency in the US by engaging in espionage activities that are a threat to the American national security.

Dalton added that Washington is taking this action, which has been in development for several months, in accordance with the UN Headquarters Agreement, suggesting the move wasn’t driven by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, interrupted a press conference on Monday saying that the US officials had delivered a letter informing him of 12 Russian diplomats being declared persona non grata and must leave the country by March 7.

Nebenzia called the move another hostile action the US authorities have undertaken against the Russian mission to the UN, accusing the United States of grossly violating the commitments of the host country agreement that they undertook.

He also noted it is said that the US as the host country is demonstrating gross disrespect to its commitments both under the UN Charter and the Host Country Agreement, and Vienna conventions, which also applies to the treatment of diplomats.

Responding to Nebenzia’s criticisms of the move, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stressed that the hostile act was committing espionage activities on US soil, reiterating that Washington’s decision has been in the works for months.

Less than a week ago, the US State Department has expelled Sergey Trepelkov, the second-ranking diplomat at Moscow’s embassy in Washington, as a tit-for-tat reaction to Russia’s unprovoked expulsion of the deputy chief of mission from the US Embassy in Moscow.

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