The U.S. has officially demanded that 12 Russian diplomats go back home by March 7th, saying they are guilty of “espionage activities.”
Olivia Dalton, spokesperson for American Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said via Twitter on Monday afternoon.
“The United States has told the Russian Mission that we are starting the process of expelling 12 intel officials from the Russian Mission who abused their residency by conducting espionage activities that are adverse to our national security,” Dalton said, adding, “We are taking actions in line with headquarters. Today’s action was in the works for many months.”
“I have just gotten information that the United States officials have undertaken a new hostile action against the Russian UN Mission grossly breaking their commitments of the host nation agreement that they signed. They just went to the Russian Mission and gave us a note asking for us do as they demand,” Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said.
White House Media Secretary Jen Psaki spoke about the situation during Monday’s news briefing, noting that the plan to deport the Russian diplomats was “in the works for many months.”
“The United States told the UN and the Russian Mission that we were starting the process of expelling 12 intelligence officials who had abused their residency in the country by engaging in espionage activities that go against our national security,” Psaki stated, adding that it had taken time to make these evaluations but they had gone to the conclusion of expulsion being the right action to take.
“And your reply to the Russian Ambassador who said this was a hostile act …” one reporter prompted.
“I believe the hostile act is conducting espionage on American soil,” Psaki said.
The news comes as Russia goes forward with its invasion of Ukraine — while Ukraine’s armed citizenry and military fight against western nations want to isolate Russia. It is the new move in a continuing spat between the United States and Russia about diplomatic privileges.
As The Hill said:
“Russia in Dec. ordered all United States Embassy staff in the nation for over three years to leave after the United States removed privileges for 27 Russians and their families after created a three-year timeline for diplomats.”