Russian Deputy Permanent Representative Vladimir Safronkov arrives at the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation in New York Monday, March 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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WASHINGTON: In ordering the largest mass expulsion of Russian diplomats ever, the U.S. and its allies have upped the ante in an East-West spy game that dates to the Cold War and cast light on an unspoken but widespread practice in the cloak-and-dagger world: sending operatives abroad under diplomatic cover. The tallies offered Monday by senior U.S. officials were striking: Far more than 100 Russian spies are on American soil masquerading as diplomats. The United States said it was kicking out 60, so even after they're gone, at least 40 will ostensibly remain, free to roam Washington and other major U.S. cities under the official imprimatur of their nation's Foreign Ministry.So if they're truly spies and the United States knows it, why not expel them all?All countries spy and most if not all send spies overseas disguised as diplomats – including the U.S.Every new Russian diplomat assigned to a mission in the United States, like the embassy in Washington or the Seattle consulate that the U.S. has ordered closed, is assessed by the FBI and other U.S. counterintelligence officials, said John Schindler, a former counterintelligence official and National Security Agency analyst.
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