The United States decided to expel 12 Russian diplomats, who have been living in the country for a significant amount of time, on the charge of “espionage.”
A group of Russian intelligence officers living in New York City recently came into the spotlight as a sole protester stood outside a building in the city that houses them.
Russian Intelligence Officers Caught Spying in America
Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations stated the diplomats are given the orders to leave America by March 7.
While the Biden administration stated the process of expelling the diplomats was in the pipeline for a long time, the decision came only after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Deputy Ambassador of the United States to the UN, Richard Mills, noted these diplomats were engaged in activities not in accordance with their official responsibilities.
A Russian-born former intelligence officer of the United States, Rebekah Koffler, stated the way Russian officers work is different from what officers from other countries do.
He accused them of doing their homework well, noting they are more diligent, compared to other officers.
Likewise, the former spy claimed these officers do not usually spy on the community within which they are living, but they try to make friendships with the local population to gather as much information as possible.
Biden has kicked out 12 alleged U.N.-based Russian "intelligence operatives," as Russia insists they are diplomats and warns of likely retaliation.https://t.co/fUgOQOR6hr
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) March 1, 2022
According to experts familiar with the matter, Russian diplomats working as intelligence officers to seek US internal information live in a compound at one of the highest points in New York City.
Spies Continued Enjoying Diplomatic Protocols Under the Biden Administration
A former special agent of the FBI, Robin Dreeke, noted many Russian intelligence officers reside in the building, which is named “plex” by law enforcement authorities.
He suggested only a few New Yorkers know Russian intelligence officers are living among them, noting some of these officers are even allowed to rent homes in the Riverdale area neighborhood of the city.
When the FBI official was asked what type of intelligence these officers might be gathering, he replied, “everything.”
Dreeke stated many people think intelligence officers only collect high-level military infrastructure kind of information, which may not necessarily be true.
According to Dreeke, the actual purpose of spying is to find information gaps in the targeted country, after which spies send that information back to their own governments so they can enact foreign policy accordingly.
The U.S. possibly already knew Russia’s UN diplomats were spies, and instead of expelling them, merely monitored them to see what could be learned. If so, why expel them now? It weakens Russia’s ability to influence the current UN general assembly.
— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) February 28, 2022
Dreeke is among those officers who have first-hand experience of the compound.
He spent a lot of time outside the building during his job at the FBI from 1997 to 2005, during which he was involved in various operations related to these intelligence officers.
These intelligence officers can either pose symmetrical or asymmetrical threats, Dreeke added.
Thus, officers who were living in New York were under diplomatic cover. They posed asymmetrical threats in general, as they were a danger to the country, but still could not be prosecuted, due to their diplomatic immunity.