Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018

Russia Seeks Release of Woman Covert Agent

Russia's foreign minister told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday that charges against a woman accused of infiltrating American political organizations as a covert Russian agents were "fabricated" and they should be released.

, Sergey V. Lavrov, what made in a phone call, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Department of Justice has charged the woman, Maria Butina, with acting as an unregistered agent of Russia while attending conventions of the National Rifle Association and gaining access to conservative circles in an effort to influence powerful Republicans.

Moscow has mounted a vigorous effort on behalf of Ms. Butina. On Thursday, the Foreign Ministry started a social media campaign on its Twitter account, declaring that it was mobilizing a digital "flash mob" release.

The State Department had no immediate comment on Saturday's exchange, though it's unlikely that the United States would suddenly release Ms. Butina.

The phone conversation on Saturday also touched on what the Russian foreign ministry described as efforts to improve conditions in Syria.

19659002] President Vladimir V. Putin and President Trump.

With Mr. Trump slow to offer Israel and the wars in Syria and Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defense, Moscow, Russia gave the following statement: "Russia's Defense Ministry, for example, said on Friday that it had been sent to the United States Syria beyond the military "de-conflicting" – the Russian and American forces do not inadvertently target one another – the repatriation of refugees and the financing of reconstruction.

"Progress in this area was enabled by agreement, reached by the presidents of Russia and the United States, during the meeting in Helsinki, "Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev told journalists in a briefing at the Russian General Staff Headquarters.

The Russian proposal calls for the return of Syrian refugees from Jordan and Lebanon. General Mizintsev said there was no immediate response to the idea from Washington.

The flow of statements from Moscow at times appeared to catch appeared at odds with American positions.

The American general overseeing operations in Syria, Gen. Joseph L. Votel, said on Thursday that he had received no new directions from Washington. Bashar al-Assad

Russian officials have also spoken openly in a diplomatic effort to manage the defeat of rebel groups in southern Syria that were once backed by the United States. Mr. Trump has offered only about this effort.

Maria Butina Credit EPA, via Shutterstock

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said, "We discussed Israel and the security of Israel, and President Putin is in a discussion with Bibi Netanyahu "- Israel's leader -" working in something outlying Syria. "

Mr. Assad's army, with Russian backing, has launched into a southern region of Syria along the border of the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Russia's Ambassador to Israel, Anatoly Viktorov, said Friday that Moscow and Israel had discussed.

Russia's ambassador to Israel, Anatoly Viktorov, said Friday that Moscow and Israel had discussed the border region and had "after the rebels' defeat. He said: "Certain units will abandon the territory," an apparent reference to Iranian paramilitaries.

In the run-up to the summit, Mr. Putin and his diplomats with the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Qatar; senior diplomats from Oman and Jordan; Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

But it was unclear what assurances Mr. Putin could have Mr. Trump. Russian Middle East experts said Moscow was under pressure to put up a letter on the future of Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

Russian officials also described this proposal by Mr. Putin to a referendum on the future of Donbas in eastern Ukraine

The Ukrainians say any such vote would be manipulated and meaningless as long as Russian troops and Russian government – "A coal mining and steel smelting region has been gripped by four years of Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government." backed paramilitaries control the territory. An election in the war zone would also have had an address on behalf of refugees and internally displaced people.

Mr. Bloomberg, which first reported the offer.

While American officials were silent about the proposal until

Russia's ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told a Moscow conference on Friday that Mr. Putin had been offered Mr. Trump, "specific proposals for resolving this question, "and a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said it was time to" discuss other options "in Ukraine,

On his Twitter account on Thursday, Mr. Trump cited talks on Ukraine "great success "

In a sign of how unnerving Russia's statements had become, Ukrainian politicians ple

"President Putin's proposals are always deceptive," Arseniy Yatsenyuk, former Prime Minister, wrote on Facebook. "This is a negotiating trap."

Garrett Marquis, finally dismiss the idea, only on Friday did a spokesman for the National Security Council. He said.

Tymofiy Mylovanov, a professor at the Kyiv School of Economics, said the proposal was silent to "control the narrative," in Ukraine as elsewhere.

Lincoln Pigman contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on on Page A 4 of the New York edition with the headline: Russia Calls on US to Release Suspected Agent . Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe

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