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US Adds Russian UN Staffer to Expulsion List

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FILE - A Russian flag flies outside the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in New York in Manhattan, New York City, Aug. 2, 2021.

The United Nations said Tuesday it has been notified by Washington that it is expelling a Russian national who works for the world body, a day after the U.S. said it was kicking out a dozen Russian diplomats for spying.

“I can confirm that the United States Mission informed the Secretariat on 28 February 2022 of its decision to take action under Section 13(b) of the U.N.-U.S. Headquarters Agreement with respect to a staff member of the Secretariat,” U.N. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in response to a reporter’s question. “We regret that we find ourselves in this situation but are engaging with the host country in line with Section 13(b).”

The U.N. was notified the same day as Russia’s U.N. mission was told that 12 of its diplomats are being declared "persona non-grata" for engaging in espionage activities and they must leave the country by March 7.

Dujarric would not give any details about the individual or their job at the United Nations. “Frankly, what I will say and what makes this decision a little difficult to understand, is that the staff member was scheduled to end his assignment on March 14,” Dujarric said.

A spokesperson at the U.S. mission to the United Nations told VOA on background that the U.N. staffer is also a “Russian intelligence operative,” but declined to release the person’s name or any other information. Additionally, they are expected to depart the U.S. by March 7.

On Monday, a U.S. spokesperson said the action against the dozen Russian diplomats had “been in development for several months,” indicating it was not directly related the current tensions between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, addresses the United Nations Security Council at U.N. headquarters in New York, April 10, 2019.
Vassily Nebenzia, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, addresses the United Nations Security Council at U.N. headquarters in New York, April 10, 2019.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenezia told reporters Monday the move is a “hostile action” by the U.S. government, and it violates Washington’s obligations as the host country of the United Nations.

“This is sad news and another demonstration of the gross disrespect of the Host Country agreement to their commitments, within the framework of their obligations – both under U.N. Charter and the Host Country agreement, and Vienna conventions,” Nebenzia told reporters. The Vienna Conventions also apply to the treatment of diplomats.

It is not the first time the U.S. has declared Russian diplomats at the United Nations persona non-grata. Most recently, in 2018, the Trump administration expelled a dozen Russian diplomats from the U.N. mission on similar charges during a time of a tensions over a poisoning attack on an ex-Russian spy.

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