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UN | US expels 12 Russian diplomats accused of spying



(United Nations) The United States decided on Monday, in the midst of an open crisis with Russia over Ukraine, to expel twelve members of the Russian diplomatic mission to the UN for “espionage”, an action denounced shortly afterwards by Moscow as a “hostile step”.

“This is a hostile move against our country,” Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said in a statement posted on Facebook, adding that this act by the US administration arouses “deep and absolute rejection” in Moscow.

It was his Russian counterpart at the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, who revealed this information in a spectacular way. While giving a press conference, Vassily Nebenzia asked shortly after his start at the hearing for a minute to respond to a telephone message. He then revealed that he had just learned of this expulsion notified by the United States.

A Russian diplomatic source then told AFP that the expulsion decision did not concern either the ambassador or his two senior deputies, Dmitry Polyanskiy and Anna Evstigneeva.

“This is bad news,” reacted to the media Vassily Nebenzia, stressing that the people concerned had been ordered to leave American territory before March 7.

American confirmation came a little later, accompanied by heavy accusations.

“The United States has informed the United Nations and Russia’s permanent mission to the UN that we are beginning the process of expelling 12 intelligence agents from the Russian mission who abused” their diplomatic status in the United States “by engaging in espionage activities contrary to our national security,” said the spokeswoman for the US diplomatic mission to the UN, Olivia Dalton, in a press release.

End of presidency

She assured that this measure had been in preparation “for several months”, seeming to want to distinguish it from the American response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian ambassador to the UN has denounced a breach of commitments by the United States, the host country, within the framework of the rules applicable to foreign diplomats working at the UN. Washington, for its part, assures that it has respected these rules.

At the start of a UN Security Council meeting on the war, when Vassily Nebenzia had just announced the news to his 14 partners, the representative of the United States had confirmed the information.


United States Representative to the UN, Richard M. Mills

“Diplomats who have been asked to leave the United States have engaged in activities inconsistent with their responsibilities and obligations as diplomats,” said Richard Mills, without further details.

He then asked Vassily Nebenzia, current president of his last meeting of the Security Council, to focus on the subject of the meeting, namely the humanitarian consequences of the invasion.

The Russian mission to the UN has around 100 people, according to a Russian diplomatic source.

The announcement of the expulsion came on the last day of Russia’s rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, which changes every month. Russia is due to leave that presidential seat to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.

Monday evening, the Russian diplomatic mission had planned a diplomatic reception to “celebrate” the end of its presidency, marked, unprecedentedly, by the launch of a war against a neighboring country. “It is not certain that there will be many guests”, indicated to AFP an ambassador on condition of anonymity, about this event to which, unusually, were not invited. journalists.

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