By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -The United States is expelling a Russian “intelligence operative” who works at the United Nations, said a spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to United Nations on Tuesday.
The United States began the process on Monday “to require the departure of one Russian intelligence operative working at the United Nations who has abused their privileges of residence in the United States,” the spokesperson said.
The expulsion is in addition to 12 Russian diplomats at the country’s U.N. mission in New York whom Washington has also ordered to leave over national security concerns.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday of the expulsion of the Russian U.N. staff member: “We regret that we find ourselves in this situation, but are engaging with the host country.”
“What makes this decision a little difficult to understand is that the staff member was scheduled to end his assignment on March 14th,” Dujarric said.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Monday that the 12 Russian diplomats had been asked to leave by March 7. He described it as a “hostile” move by the United States and said Russia would respond “because it’s diplomatic practice.”
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool)