Moscow/Washington: Russia today expelled two United States diplomats serving the American embassy in Moscow. The Russian Foreign Ministry today summoned the American Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy, where she was handed an official note on the incompatibility of the activities of United States First Secretary Jeffrey Sillin and Second Secretary David Bernstein with their diplomatic status.
“These embassy employees conducted illegal activities by liaising with Russian citizen Robert Shonov, who has been accused of “confidential collaboration” with a foreign state. He accepted money for the fulfilment of missions aimed at undermining the national security of the Russian Federation,” Russian Foreign Minister Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry notified Ambassador Tracy that Sillin and Bernstein had been declared persona non grata and must leave the territory of Russia within seven days.
The Ministry pointed out to the US Ambassador that the illegal activities of the US Embassy, namely, interference in the internal affairs of the host country, were unacceptable and would be firmly prevented.
“Russia hopes that Washington will draw correct conclusions from this and will refrain from taking confrontational steps,” Maria said.
Washington responded by imposing sanctions on over 150 Russian individuals and entities “in connection with Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine”. As part of today’s action, the US Government targetted individuals and entities “engaged in sanctions evasion and circumvention, those complicit in furthering Russia’s ability to wage its war against Ukraine, and those responsible for bolstering Russia’s future energy production”.
The latest diplomatic tussle between the two rivals has come at a time when the US has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ‘begging‘ for arms before visiting North Korean President Kim Jong Un. The US was further apprehensive of talks between the two leaders about satellite cooperation, and it referred to the multiple UN Security Council resolutions against North Korea’s ballistic missile programme “which Russia itself voted for and now could potentially be violating”. On the eve of their meeting yesterday, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the Eastern Sea, and even the venue of the meeting between the two leaders at the Vostochny Space Launch Centre invited many media speculations in the West.
“We haven’t seen the full manifestation of this meeting yet or what the full outcomes of this meeting will be, but when you see the two – when you see Kim Jong-un vowing to provide full, unconditional support for Russia’s so-called “sacred fight” to defend its security interests, which of course is not what it’s doing with respect to the war in Ukraine, that, of course, is troubling,” US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters in Washington last night (IST).
Sensing possibilities of an arms deal between Russia and North Korea, the US Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had earlier even said that had a potential for sanctions.
Maria Zakharova, however, responded today saying, “Let us wait until the meeting ends…From a factual point of view, it is wrong to discuss something that has just started. Let’s wait a little… Interaction is ongoing in a number of areas. As to the leaders, let us wait until the talks are over”.
– global bihari bureau