Published: Fri, January 18, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Russia says it caught former US marine accused of spying red-handed

Russia says it caught former US marine accused of spying red-handed

"It's hard for me to comment on what is happening in the US surrounding accusations that President Trump is effectively a Russian agent", Lavrov said at his annual press conference in Moscow on Wednesday.

The 48-year-old MI resident was in Moscow to attend a wedding.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed claims that President Donald Trump has been working on the Kremlin's behalf as he attacked Congress and the American media for undermining the USA leader.

Tensions have raged for months over the fate of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) signed in 1987 by then USA president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. "This right is under attack from Congress and this doesn't make these attacks constitutional or less illegal".

Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, similarly derided the claims in the US that Trump might have worked for Russian interests.

Mr Ushakov noted that Russia-US relations were now at a level that "can't be worse".

Putin has also said that if Washington moved to place more missiles in Europe after ditching the deal, Russia would respond "in kind" and that any European countries agreeing to host USA missiles would be at risk of a Russian attack.

The Kremlin's hopes for better relations with the U.S. under Mr Trump have been shattered by ongoing investigations into the allegations of collusion between Mr Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

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Lavrov noted that earlier this week the US has ignored Moscow's proposal to inspect a Russian missile that Washington claims has violated a nuclear arms treaty.

Russian Federation said on Wednesday that it had caught former USA marine Paul Whelan, who is being held in Russian Federation on spying charges, while he was in the act of carrying out illegal activities in his Moscow hotel room.

Lavrov denied claims Whelan was arrested in order to conduct a prisoner swap with the U.S.

He was born in Canada to British parents before the family moved to the U.S. He holds British, Canadian and Irish passports, and Russian Federation said it will allow consular visits.

Lavrov said Whelan's brother has visited Moscow and has been briefed about the prison conditions.

Moscow's top negotiator in Geneva, deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov, said the Geneva talks centred on Russia's 9M729 system but that United States demands regarding the missile were unacceptable.

"We weren't able to break any new ground yesterday with Russia", Thompson said of the January 15 meeting with Russian Foreign Ministry officials.

Mr Lavrov rejected claims Russian authorities could have arrested Mr Whelan in order to swap him for one of the Russians held in the United States, saying "we don't do such things".

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