The United States on Monday expelled 12 members of Russia’s UN mission from America for being “intelligence operatives”. They have been asked to leave the country by March 7.
A spokeswoman for the US mission to the UN, Olivia Dalton, said those ordered to leave had "abused their privileges of residency in the United States by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security."
"We are taking this action in accordance with the UN Headquarters Agreement. This action has been in development for several months," she said.
Earlier, the US's deputy ambassador to the UN, Richard Mills, told a a Security Council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine that the dozen had engaged in non-diplomatic activities.
"Those diplomats that have been asked to leave the United States were engaged in activities that were not in accordance with their responsibilities and obligations as diplomats," he said, without elaborating further.
The decision was first informed by Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia.
"It's bad news," said Nebenzia, refusing to specify whether he was among those told to leave.
As per reports, the Russian mission to the UN has around 100 staff.