New Zealand, a member of the close-knit circle of American-allied intelligence family known as the "Five Eyes," may have been eager to participant in the international diplomatic protest against Russia by expelling Russian intelligence officials from their country, but the government said it hit a roadblock when it couldn't find any.
"We have done a check in New Zealand. We don't have Russian undeclared intelligence officers here. If we did, we would expel them," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told state radio, according to Sky News.
To be clear, more than a dozen nations expelled Russian diplomats in retaliation for the alleged poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in the U.K. earlier this month, and only a handful identified any of them as purported intelligence officers. (So-called "official cover" intelligence officers work under diplomatic cover abroad.)
The U.S., who reacted most aggressively of the countries involved, expelled 48 Russian officials "serving at Russia's bilateral mission to the United States" as well as 12 "intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission to the United Nations who have abused their privilege of residence in the United States," according to the U.S. State Department.
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