Some of the 60 Russian diplomats recently expelled from the US were suspected of spying on Russian defectors, including at least one person who was given a new identity under a CIA program, CNN reports, citing officials briefed on the matter. The diplomats were expelled in response to the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK, an act the US blames on Russia, and the report raises the possibility that the Kremlin was looking to target enemies of the state who resettled in the US in a similar way.
CNN points out that in a January report, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee drew attention to the suspicious deaths of some two dozen critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin and highlighted a Russian law passed in 2006 "that permits the assassination of 'enemies of the Russian regime' who live abroad." "It is imperative that the American people better understand the true scope and scale of Putin's pattern of undermining democracy in Russia and across Europe," Sen. Ben Cardin wrote at the time, per Mediate. The State Department previously said some of the expelled diplomats could be replaced by other Russians, the Hill points out. (Read more Russia stories.)