Russian Federation claims American Paul Whelan was caught spying ‘red-handed’

Hugh Fox
January 18, 2019

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

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also dismissed "accusations that President Trump is effectively a Russian agent" at his annual press conference Wednesday in Moscow, as he attacked Congress and the American media for undermining the USA leader.

Russian Federation denies any such strategy and accuses US President Donald Trump of using Moscow as a pretext to quit the INF Treaty.

"That's stupid", President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy aide, Yuri Ushakov, told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday.

Lavrov said the investigation into Whelan continued and his detention was not motivated by any desire to try to exchange him for Russian citizens held in the United States.

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Asked if Russian Federation could release the minutes of Trump's one-on-one negotiations with President Vladimir Putin, Lavrov dismissed the idea, saying it defies the basic culture of diplomacy.

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

He particularly scoffed at the charges levelled against Mr Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, saying that he talked to the Russian ambassador only in a bid to protect USA interests.

He claimed that this aim was "confirmed very clearly" at talks in Geneva on the INF treaty, asserting that the United States ignored Russian explanations of a missile that is allegedly in violation of the INF.

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

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Lavrov said the investigation into Whelan will continue and dismissed reports that the country arrested him so he could be swapped for one of the Russians held in the US like Maria Butina, who pleaded guilty to acting as a foreign agent in the U.S.

He also said Mr Whelan's brother was in Moscow and had been briefed about prison conditions, but David Whelan told Reuters on Tuesday such reports were "false". The Interfax news agency later carried the Foreign Ministry's statement saying that Whelan's brother isn't in the Russian capital.

Whelan holds citizenship from U.S., Britain, Ireland and Canada, and Lavrov said Russian Federation will allow consular visits.

Lavrov also repeated suggestions that Moscow would like to preserve the 2010 New START treaty governing US and Russian long-range nuclear arms, which is set to expire in 2021 but can be extended for five years by mutual agreement.

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