Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Russia says too many U.S. spies work in Moscow embassy

Russia said on Friday that too many American spies operated in Moscow under diplomatic cover and said it might expel some of them to retaliate against the United States over Washington’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats last year. The warning, delivered by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, reflects rising frustration in Moscow over the Trump administration’s refusal to hand back two Russian diplomatic compounds which were seized at the same time as some of Russia’s diplomats were sent home last year. Barack Obama, U.S. president at the time, ordered the expulsion of 35 suspected Russian spies in December, along with the seizure of the two diplomatic compounds, over what he said was the hacking of U.S. political groups during the 2016 presidential election, something Russia has flatly denied. President Vladimir Putin decided not to retaliate immediately at the time, saying he would wait to see what the new administration of Donald Trump would do. Zakharova complained on Friday that U.S. officials were not issuing visas to Russian diplomats to allow Moscow to replace the expelled employees and get its embassy back up to full strength.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-sanctions-retaliation-idUSKBN19Z0RV

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