Russia wants an explanation from the United States over the arrest of 10 suspected Russian spies, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement on Monday that 11 people had been charged as "unlawful agents of the Russian Federation within the United States." It said 10 were arrested on Sunday and the other one remains at large.
"They have not explained to us what is going on. I hope they will," Lavrov told journalists following talks with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, in Jerusalem, adding "the only thing I can say is that the timing [of the announcement], was chosen with particular care."
The U.S. announcement came only a few days after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to the United States.
Some top Russian lawmakers have described the move as an attempt to undermine trust in relations between Russia and the United States.
Deputy Head of the Russian Parliamentary Security Committee Nikolai Kolesnikov said the scandal was orchestrated by people whose attitude to Russia was still based on Cold War-era stereotypes.
Many people involved in U.S. politics view the recent warm spell in relations between the two countries as "inappropriate," he said.
First Deputy Speaker of the Russian upper house of parliament Alexander Torshin called on the media not to over-hype the situation.
"This is not a return to the Cold War, and this incident, I am sure, will not become a large-scale spy scandal," he said.
The recent decision by the United States to put Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov on their international terrorist list is a "serious signal" indicating that relations between Moscow and Washington has reached an "unprecedentedly high level," he said.
He said the suspects were U.S. citizens, which means the issue should be treated as an internal U.S. affair.
JERUSALEM, June 29 (RIA Novosti)