Russia has accused the United States of having too many spies operating within its diplomatic offices, and of refusing to cooperate on diplomatic issues.
“There are too many employees of the CIA and the Pentagon’s espionage unit working under the roof of the American diplomatic mission whose activity does not correspond at all with their status,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova said on Friday according to TASS.
Zakharova also has said that Russia is considering expelling a number of these employees, and significantly reducing the number of U.S. officials working in Moscow.
“The number of personnel at the U.S. embassy in Moscow significantly exceeds the number of our personnel working in Washington. So, one of the options is that, apart from expelling the corresponding number of U.S. diplomats, we will just have to even the number of personnel,” she said.
The warning is partially a response in retaliation to the United States’ expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in Washington last year, who were kicked out at the same time two Russian diplomatic compounds were seized by the Obama administration.
The U.S. justified the move accusing Russia of interfering in electoral processes, something which Russian officials have denied.
Russia has been increasingly frustrated with the U.S.’s refusal to give back the compounds, and allow Russia to replace the expelled diplomats.
If the issue is not resolved, Zakharova said Russia will be forced to take “reciprocal measures.”
“Everything depends on the reaction of the U.S. side, its concrete actions, and on the results of the consultations which will now take place in Washington,” she added.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia rejected the idea of linking the dispute to other political issues.
However, Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev criticized the “cynical” approach the U.S. was taking toward diplomacy and dialogue.
“Even hinting at possible steps toward cooperation between our countries is currently seen in the U.S. as political suicide,” he said.
Oscar Lopez Rivera Joins Fight Against Toxic Coal Ash Dumping
Former political prisoner and Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera, joined a protest against the toxic ash production that is harming communities near Peñuelas from the AES corporation coal plant.
The community is undertaking an active struggle against the Fortune 500 company’s poisoning of the area. The production of coal waste has caused serious health issues for the people in the area, ever since last year a quietly made deal between the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Puerto Rico Electric and Power Authority removed a clause in AES’s contract that prohibted coal ash dumping on the island.
The company has saved millions of dollars by putting their toxic waste in public landfills, to the detriment of people’s health. Many citizens report respiratory problems, and even boosts in cancer rates as a result.
“If we fight, let us triumph. We need to decolonize our spirit… Without struggle there is no victory,” the independence fighter said to press.
He called on the Puerto Rican people to join together in civil disobedience against AES. “I would like the Puerto Rican community to be here,” he said.
In Peñuelas, AES operations are protected from demonstrators by a stationing of around 300 police. Twelve people were arrested for sitting on a road to block the passage of coal ash trucks.
Protests have been ongoing since last year. In November, a Puerto Rican Independence Party Senator, Maria de Lourdes Santiago was among 41 arrested during protests agaisnt AES.
Demonstrations also occurred in Humacao, where AES is also actively dumping ashes.
Lopez Rivera spent 36 years in U.S. prisons on alleged conspiracy charges. He has long been a leader and hero of the Puerto Rican movement for independence from its status a a U.S. colony.
The remainder of his sentence was commuted by former president Barack Obama, after years of calls from activists for his release. Since his release, he has promised to continue struggling for the right to self-determination of Puerto Rico.