Ukraine expels Russian diplomat for ‘spying activities’

Embassy of Russia in KievBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS |
The Ukrainian government has issued an expulsion order for an unidentified Russian diplomat, who was detained on Wednesday for allegedly engaging in “spying activities”. On Thursday, Ukrainian government officials announced that a Russian naval attaché stationed in Ukrainian capital Kiev had been declared persona non grata (an unwelcome individual) for “engaging in acts incompatible with his diplomatic status”. The phrase is used in the international legal vernacular to describe an accredited diplomat engaging in intelligence operations abroad without the consent of his or her host nation. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told reporters that the attaché had been found to “engage in spying activities”. Initially, ministry officials did not specify the nature of the Russian diplomat’s alleged spying activities. Later, however, in response to a question by a journalist, Ukrainian government representatives said that the diplomat was collecting intelligence on military and political cooperation between Ukraine and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. At a separate public briefing, Maryna Ostapenko, spokeswoman for the SBU, Ukraine’s counterintelligence agency, said the Russian diplomat was in fact an accredited intelligence officer, who was detained “while committing spying activities” on April 30. She told reporters that the diplomat was “caught red-handed receiving classified material from his source”. Ostapenko later described the source as an unidentified colonel in the armed forces of Ukraine. A press release by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the diplomat had been ordered to “leave the territory of the country [of Ukraine] as soon as possible”. There has been no immediate response from the Kremlin. Meanwhile, the government in Kiev announced on Thursday that it had reinstated military conscription, in an effort to address what it called the “deteriorating security situation” in the country. A decree signed by Ukraine’s acting President, Oleksandr Turchynov, cited the “threat to the territorial integrity” of Ukraine by “the rising force of armed pro-Russian units and the taking of public administration buildings” in the east of the country. Military conscription in Ukraine had been abolished in 2013 by the government of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.

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