(CNN) – Russia is following President Obama’s orders to close down two of its compounds in the U.S.
35 Russian diplomats are being expelled from the U.S. as retaliation for Russia’s meddling in the presidential election. Both nations have kicked out each other’s spies before but there likely are more being left behind.
FBI cameras captured Russian operative Anna chapman and a federal undercover agent meeting in a New York coffee shop in June 2010. Seventeen days later chapman and nine other Russian sleeper agents were arrested in New York, New Jersey and Virginia, charged with conspiracy to act as unlawful agents of Russia.
Spies who had burrowed deep into American society for years trying to steal secrets and recruit agents.
The FBI had watched Chapman and the others for months, recording drop offs of packages, meetings on staircases even one meeting just yards from CNN’s offices in New York
The U.S. believes the group never got its hands on classified information, but the Russian infiltration into the U.S. is a classic Moscow move.
Former CIA officer, Steve Hall, said, “What they do is much more than just collect. They actually try to influence events to the benefit of Russia all over the world. And this is something that they have done for decades.”
Within days at the airport in Vienna, the 10 Russians traded back for four other Russians charged with being in touch with western intelligence services in an elaborately choreographed transfer
Now the state department is expelling 35 Russian officials it says violated their diplomatic status. This, after the U.S. claim of interference in the presidential election and harassment of U.S. diplomats overseas.
Vladimir Putin, a former Russian intelligence officer well acquainted with the so-called illegal program putting agents into U.S. society.
Hall also said, “The fact that they would continue to do that to establish these American legends and cover stories for these people who are trying to pose as Americans in the United States shows how serious they are.”
But the U.S. has also been caught in the act too. In 2013 Ryan Fogle a political secretary at the u-s embassy in Moscow was arrested. The Russians claimed they caught him with wigs, dark glasses and cash–trying to recruit a Russian agent. Fogle was expelled. It was never clear if he was set up by the Russians.
Earlier this year a u-s diplomat was tackled and beaten by a uniformed Russian police officer as he tried to enter the American embassy in Moscow.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the state department said, “The action was unprovoked and it endangered the safety of our employee.”
President-elect Donald Trump is calling Russian leader Vladimir Putin “very smart” Friday for withholding sanctions on the u-s, at least for the time being. Putin discarded a recommendation from his government to impose restrictions on the U.S.