Russia Expels Two US Diplomat for “Illegal Activities”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday it has expelled two US Embassy employees from the country, accusing them of working with a Russian national that Moscow had previously accused of spying.

In a statement, the foreign ministry said it had summoned US Ambassador Lynne Tracy and informed her that the two diplomats Jeff Sillin and David Bernstein conducted “illegal activities by liaising with a Russian citizen, Robert Shonov,” and they must leave the territory of Russia within seven days.

Shonov had worked as a local employee at the US consulate in the eastern city of Vladivostok for more than 25 years until Russia ordered the termination of the US mission’s local staff in 2021.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested Shonov in May and accused him of cooperating “on a confidential basis with a foreign state,” alleging he passed information to the United States about Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Last month, the FSB announced it planned to interrogate Sillin and Bernstein after it accused them of directing Shonov to gather information.

In statement, US State Department spokesman Matt Miller called the allegations “wholly without merit,” and he insisted Shonov was employed by a company contracted to provide services to the US Embassy in Moscow “in strict compliance with Russia’s laws and regulations.”

Source: Qatar News Agency

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