Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says US diplomats in Russia engaged in espionage

January 17, 2017 8:00 pm

Russian Foreign Minister (R) and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova attend a conference in , , January 17, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says US diplomats in Russia have engaged in espionage in the past few years and participated in opposition protests.
Lavrov said at a news conference on Russian diplomacy in 2016 on Tuesday that US Embassy diplomats have been engaged in spying and “have repeatedly been seen taking part in the rallies of opposition, anti-government forces, unauthorized rallies, including times when they wore disguise.”
He also stressed that US intelligence agencies have been actively attempting to recruit senior Russian diplomats over the past several years.
“If we talk about recruitment techniques, we did not publicize the full statistics on that. But most recently, in the past few years, especially during the second term of [US President Barack] Obama’s administration, that unfriendly activity toward our diplomats has been growing in scale,” Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday.
Lavrov said the Russian authorities have managed to thwart several attempts by US spies disguised as diplomats to gather intelligence on Russia. “We’ve curbed the intelligence activities of US officials who were working under diplomatic cover.”
Lavrov also slammed the allegations of Russian cyber attacks against the US as fabricated.
American officials, including outgoing President Obama, have accused the Kremlin of carrying out cyber attacks against US political organizations to help Donald Trump win the presidency.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Russia’s top diplomat said representatives from the future US administration and the United Nations (UN) should be invited to the upcoming intra-Syrian peace talks due to be held in the Kazakh capital of Astana later this month.

In this photo, made available on Friday, November 27, 2015, a Russian seaman stands next to a machine gun on the Russian missile cruiser Moskva, near the shore of Syria’s province of Latakia, Syria. (Via AP)

“We think it would be the right thing to invite the representatives of the UN and the new US administration to the meeting, taking into account that the meeting will take place on January 23, as planned,” Lavrov said, expressing his country’s hope that the incoming Trump administration will accept the invitation.
“We’re counting on the new [US] administration accepting this invitation and being represented by experts on any level they consider possible. It will be the first official contact during which we could begin discussing stepping up the efficiency of fighting terrorism in Syria,” Lavrov added.
The negotiations will be held between representatives from the Damascus government and foreign-sponsored opposition groups in Astana.
The negotiations, which exclude the Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorist groups, will be mediated by Russia, Turkey, and Iran. The three countries successfully implemented a similar accord in December last year following the defeat of militants in Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo.
The Astana talks would be held in the wake of a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, which was endorsed by the UN Security Council on December 31.
Syria has been fighting foreign-sponsored militancy over the past almost six years. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimated in August last year that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the Syrian crisis until then. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.
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