US expels 12 Russian diplomats from New York over alleged 'espionage'
The U.S. announced Monday that 12 Russian diplomats are being expelled from New York.
The move comes as local lawmakers like Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Rep. Lee Zeldin ordered the federal government to close the Russian-owned Killenworth Estate in Glen Cove.
The historic mansion was purchased by the Soviet Union decades ago and used as a retreat for the county's delegation to the United Nations.
For years, there have been allegations that Russians used the compound for spying.
"We in Nassau County have no idea what goes on there and considering the violent nature of the Russian government, it's a concern for me for the safety and security of residents of Nassau County," Blakeman said.
The U.S. Mission to the UN said in a statement that the Russian diplomats "have abused their privileges of residency in the United States by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security."
The names of those being told to leave have not been released.
The government did not make it clear if the diplomats they are expelling are from the Glen Cove estate. Either way, Blakeman and Zeldin say those diplomats needs to be expelled, not only for security concerns, but also out of sympathy for Ukrainian Long Islanders.
"A message needs to get sent to Russia that we have zero tolerance for Putin and his ego," Zeldin says. "This desire to put the Soviet Union back together again. We stand with these Ukrainian American families and most importantly, we stand for freedom."
United States officials are ordering the diplomats leave the country by March 7.
When asked for his reaction to the U.S. accusing Russians of spying, the Russian ambassador said, "They always do. That's their pretext."