The beginning of an already fraught United Nations Security Council meeting got even more tense when Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, informed the body that the U.S. had just expelled twelve of his colleagues from the country, a move confirmed by the American Deputy UNPR Richard Mills.
Mr. Nebenzia, who conducts the meeting since Russia holds the presidency of the Council for February, opened by saying the “host country” [the U.S.] had taken “yet another hostile step” against the Russian mission by expelling twelve staff.
He called this a “gross violation” of the U.N. agreement with the host country and the Vienna Convention. Mr. Nebenzia said there needed to be an arbitration procedure on host country obligations. Russia was repeatedly being told to follow the path of diplomacy but Russia’s opportunities to do this were being “restricted”, Mr. Nebenzia said.
Mr. Mills said the expelling of diplomats was not an appropriate topic of discussion at a meeting convened around the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. The decision to expel officials was taken in “full accordance with the headquarters agreement that we signed with the U.N.”, Mr. Mills said, and that the diplomats “were engaged in activities that were not in accordance with their responsibilities and obligations”.
He said they were being sent out of the country so they “do not harm the national security of the host country [the U.S.]”.
A statement posted to the US mission’s website said the diplomats were expelled for espionage and that US action on them had been in process for several months.