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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Media Names U.S. 'Spies'

A U.S. diplomat declined to comment on Wednesday on reports naming him as the CIA's Moscow station chief and one of four U.S. officials being expelled.

Interfax quoted law enforcement sources naming Paul Hollingsworth as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency's operations in Moscow and said he was one of the four ordered on Tuesday to leave the country within 10 days.

Contacted by telephone at the embassy, Hollingsworth said "No comment" and hung up. The embassy also declined to comment.

But the Washington Post quoted U.S. sources as saying Hollingsworth, who holds the rank of first secretary at the embassy, worked beneath the station chief. Interfax also said the diplomat had worked for the CIA in Russia between 1992-1994.

Last week, Washington kicked out four Russians and said a further 46 should leave by July. Moscow retaliated one for one.

The spy row — the worst since the Cold War — and Monday's meeting in Washington between a senior U.S. official and a envoy of Chechen rebels were seen by Moscow as a sign of worsening bilateral ties under new U.S. President George W. Bush.

The Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that John Ordway, No. 2 at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, had been given a note listing the four diplomats declared persona non grata and ordered out of the country. They have not been named publicly.

The Americans were accused of "activities incompatible with their diplomatic status," a euphemism for spying, but Russian officials say they are being sent home now as retaliation.

Adding fuel to the diplomatic fire, RTR state television showed footage on Tuesday that it said documented U.S. Embassy naval attache Robert Brannon having telephone contact with a Russian spy recruit. RTR said the man had turned himself over to the FSB domestic security police for fear of getting caught.

The Washington Post quoted Brannon as saying he had received an unsolicited phone call, but had refused to meet the man. He also said he was not among the four expelled diplomats.

The U.S. Embassy also declined to comment on this.

Russia welcomed remarks by U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher that it interpreted as Washington's intention to move beyond the spy row.

Boucher, speaking at a news briefing in Washington on Tuesday, described Russia's expulsion retaliation as "unwarranted" and left open the possibility of further action.

But he said the United States was prepared to cooperate.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said he had spoken by telephone with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Tuesday and expressed Russia's readiness for a constructive dialogue.

"We took notice of the announcement from Washington that they wanted to consider this question [the spy scandal] to have played itself out, and we have the same attitude on our side," Ivanov told journalists.

"[We] would like to believe that we can turn to our affairs and carry out a constructive dialogue along the lines of all questions concerning the United States and Russia."

Interfax quoted Ivanov as saying the two men had not discussed whether there would be further expulsions. The row was sparked in part by the arrest last month of former FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who is accused of spying for Moscow.