Russia Expels Two US Embassy Staff Members

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Moscow moved to expel two U.S. diplomats Thursday, accusing them of “liaising” with a former U.S consulate worker whom Russian authorities have detained on an espionage accusation.

The Russian foreign ministry said the two diplomats — Jeff Sillin and David Bernstein — conducted “illegal activities by liaising with a Russian citizen, (Robert) Shonov,” who formerly worked at the U.S. consulate in Vladivostok.

Last month, Shonov was charged by Russia with passing on information connected to the war in Ukraine to the U.S. — a claim that Washington rejects.

“The US ambassador was told that Sillin and Bernstein must leave the territory of Russia within seven days under the status of persona non grata,” it said, according to the AFP news agency.

The U.S. has accused Russia of trying to intimidate its employees in the country by arresting and charging Shonov.

The allegations against him are “wholly without merit,” a U.S. State Department spokesman said in August, adding the move to detain him only “highlights the increasingly repressive actions the Russian government is taking against its own citizens.”

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