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The BBC's Rob Parsons
"More expulsions are anticipated"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jacky Rowland
"Relations between Russia and the United States are more chilly than they have been for some time"
 real 28k

Former KGB general Oleg Kalugin
"Co-operation has largely been on paper"
 real 28k

Friday, 23 March, 2001, 16:34 GMT
Russia to expel US diplomats
US Embassy in Moscow
The US Embassy employees must leave within a few days
Russia is to expel four diplomats at the American embassy in Moscow, in retaliation for Washington's announcement that it was throwing 50 Russian diplomats out of the United States.

Moscow is yet to confirm claims by the US State Department that Russia also intends to force 46 other diplomats to leave by the summer.

Chief of Russia's Security Council Sergei Ivanov
Sergei Ivanov said the Russian response would be 'more painful'
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the four embassy workers will be ordered to leave the country for "activities incompatible with their status".

The wording is a familiar euphemism for espionage.

The ministry promised that further steps would be taken "to stop illegal activities of US representatives in Russia".

Russia's security chief has also ruled out co-operation with US security forces and anti-terrorism operations in the near future.

FBI link

The White House said its decision on Thursday to declare the 50 Russians "persona non grata" was linked to the recent arrest of an FBI agent, Robert Hanssen, who is accused of spying for Moscow.

The Russians retaliated by summoning the US deputy chief of mission, John Ordway, to the ministry.

A ministry statement said Mr Ordway was read "a decisive protest in connection with the unlawful activities of a number of official American representatives in Russia".

He was told the embassy employees should leave Russia within the next few days.

No details have been given about the positions of the embassy staff.


Russia will firmly and steadfastly defend its national interests

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
The ministry also informed Mr Ordway of "other measures for stopping unlawful activities of official American representatives in Russia".

Russian officials had been working out an appropriate response to the imminent expulsion of four Russian diplomats, and the demand that 46 others leave the United States by July.

They described the US action as politically driven and a throwback to the Cold War which could seriously injure relations between the former rivals.

Co-operation called off

Chief of Russia's Security Council Sergei Ivanov told Polish state television the Russian response to the expulsions would be "more painful".

"We have time to think, to carefully pick from among more than 1,000 US diplomats in Russia, to choose those who are most precious to the Americans," he said on Thursday.

Mr Ivanov told the Itar-Tass news agency the country was breaking off cooperation with US security and anti-terrorism forces for the foreseeable future in protest.

He said he could "hardly believe" President Bush's suggestion that the incident would not affect bilateral ties.

"We might as well forget about fruitful cooperation between Russian and American special services for the next few months," he said.

According to Mr Ivanov, the cooperation had been successfully developing and producing results in combating

  • international terrorism
  • the proliferation of nuclear technology
  • the spread of drugs round the world.

But Washington-based former KGB general Oleg Kalugin, an expert on relations, told BBC News Online the threat to co-operation was not significant.

"It is a very short-sighted policy. This co-operation so far has been largely on paper - the declarations on the Russian side have not been matched by deeds.

"It is Russia which is under attack by Muslim terrorists, it is Russia which needs financial and economic assistance."

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See also:

22 Mar 01 | Americas
US and Russia clash over expulsions
21 Mar 01 | Americas
Russian diplomat 'was spy'
23 Mar 01 | Media reports
Russian press cynical about US spy move
20 Feb 01 | Americas
FBI agent arrested for spying
22 Mar 01 | Americas
Analysis: Echoes of the Cold War
20 Feb 01 | Americas
Who's being spied on?
20 Feb 01 | Americas
Fifty years of spies
21 Feb 01 | Americas
Profile: Unassuming double agent?
05 Mar 01 | Americas
US court orders detention of 'spy'
05 Mar 01 | Europe
'Spy tunnel' angers Russia
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