Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it would retaliate over the U.S. expulsion of 12 of its diplomats at the United Nations for alleged spying.

Iran PressEurope: On Wednesday, 24 February morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin officially announced a special military operation against Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin says he had no other choice than to launch the military operation to stop the Ukrainian military’s interference in two eastern republics that have broken away from Ukraine. Russia perceives NATO’s eastward expansion as a threat.

Since the start of the conflict, Russia has been the target of harsh sanctions by the United States and its allies these days over its support for Russian ethnicities in eastern Ukraine and its recognition of the  Donetsk and Luhansk region.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the U.S. action "will not remain without a proper reaction and an answer - not necessarily symmetrical."

The United States claimed on Monday the expelled diplomats were "intelligence operatives" who had been "engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to US national security." 219