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US intel trying to get in contact with expelled Russian diplomats, says Foreign Ministry

Earlier, Washington announced its decision to expel 60 Russian diplomats, including 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN
Russian Foreign Ministry Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry
© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

MOSCOW, March 30. /TASS/. The United States’ intelligence services are trying to get in contact with Russian diplomats who have been expelled from the United States with no serious grounds for that, the Russian foreign ministry said on Friday.

"We observe a dramatic increase in provocative actions against Russian diplomats in the United States," the ministry said. "In the recent days, following the decision on the ungrounded expulsion of 60 employees of Russian diplomatic missions in that country, the US intelligence services are taking frenzied efforts to get in contact with them."

The Russian Foreign Ministry drew attention to a series of episodes when Washington was attempting to "offer ‘assistance’ for covert relations ‘on the mutually beneficial basis’" to those it was forcing to cut short their missions.

"The United States has obviously decided to put through a combination: the official authorities expel Russian diplomats for no good reason and the US intelligence services, which have been acting more and more aggressively, are rushing to use this difficult moment for our nationals," the ministry said. "These obvious plans are failing but such conduct is cynical and loathsome as though Washington no longer sees the bounds of elementary decency."

"We take note of each of such cases and make conclusions," the ministry stressed.

Expulsion of Russian diplomats

On March 26, Washington announced its decision to expel 60 Russian diplomats, including 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. Apart from that, it said Russia’s Consulate General in Seattle would be closed.

The move was prompted by the incident involving the alleged poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and was later swapped for Russian intelligence officers.

On March 4, Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, the UK. Police said they had allegedly been exposed to a nerve agent. Both are in the hospital in critical condition.

London immediately accused Russia of being involved, but failed to produce any evidence. UK Prime Minister Theresa May rushed to blame Russia for "unlawful use of force" against her country. She identified the alleged substance used in the attack as the so-called Novichok nerve agent, allegedly developed in the former Soviet Union. The UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow.

Russia has flatly rejected these allegations pointing out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia had any programs to develop that substance. In response, Moscow expelled the same number of British diplomats from Russia and ordering to close the British Consulate-General in St. Petersburg and shut down the British Council’s offices in Russia.