(United Nations) The day after the announcement of the expulsion of 12 diplomats from the Russian mission to the UN, the United States revealed on Tuesday that it had asked the Organization for the departure of a “Russian intelligence agent working at the United Nations”, against a backdrop of extreme American-Russian tensions linked to the war in Ukraine.
This double announcement has enveloped the UN headquarters on the edge of the East River in Manhattan with a strong scent of the Cold War, even if the place is regularly described by diplomats as “a nest of spies”.
“On February 28, the United States launched a procedure to demand the departure of a Russian intelligence agent working at the United Nations who abused his privileges of residence in the United States”, announced to AFP a door. -spokesman of the American diplomatic mission to the Organization.
Asked whether it was a man or a woman, the American mission refused to comment, recalling that the traditional policy of the United States in this type of case was not to reveal the names of the individuals involved.
It is also impossible to know whether or not the case is linked to the war waged by Russia in Ukraine.
Same lead on the side of the UN spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, who just limited himself to confirming the American request during his daily press briefing.
He, too, declined to give any details about the function of this employee, and whether he or she worked with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at 38and floor of the glass building that houses its offices.
Stéphane Dujarric indicated that the person concerned worked within the “secretariat” of the UN and that because of the rights related to his private life and the “sensitive” nature of the file, he would not comment further.
” Bad news ”
On Monday, the United States confirmed that it had taken the decision to expel twelve members of the Russian diplomatic mission to the UN before March 7, accused of “espionage”, revealed by the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, spectacularly, in the middle of a press conference after taking a call on his mobile phone.
“It is a hostile move against our country”, reacted the Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, in a press release published on Facebook, adding that this act of the American administration aroused “deep disappointment and a absolute rejection” in Moscow.
Deputy Russian Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy then told AFP that the expulsion decision did not concern Vassily Nebenzia, himself, or Deputy Russian Ambassador for African Affairs Anna Evstigneeva.
“It’s bad news,” reacted to the media Vassily Nebenzia.
Without mentioning a link with the conflict in Ukraine, the United States in a press release explained that the twelve employees of the Russian mission had “abused” their diplomatic status in the United States “by engaging in espionage activities contrary to our national security”.
Washington had specified 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.
For the Russian diplomatic mission, by proceeding in this way, the United States is breaking its commitments as a host country of the United Nations, for the rules applicable to foreign diplomats working at the UN.
Washington, for its part, assures that it has respected these rules.
The Russian mission to the UN has around 100 people, according to a Russian diplomatic source.
Both the announcement of the expulsion and the decision to request the departure of a Russian UN employee came on the last day of Russia’s presidency of the UN Security Council, which rotates monthly. On Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates took over the presidency for the month of March.