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Blinken Says U.S. Has Raised Mysterious Illness With Russia That Is Afflicting Diplomats

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States has raised an illness with Russia that has afflicted American diplomats as it works to find out what the ailment is and what causes it.

Blinken said “virtually the entire government” is working to get to the bottom of the illness known as Havana Syndrome, which has afflicted about 200 U.S. diplomats, officials, and family members.

“To date, we don’t know exactly what’s happened and we don’t know exactly who is responsible,” Blinken said in an interview with MSNBC on January 13.

His comments came after a report in The Wall Street Journal saying that more American diplomats were reported ill in Paris and Geneva, where the United States and Russia held security talks on January 10 over Moscow’s troop buildup near the Ukrainian border.

“We’ve raised this with the Russians, but we still don’t have a determination…of who is responsible,” he said. “We’ve made clear that if they are responsible, or for that matter, anyone who is responsible will suffer severe consequences.”

U.S. officials suspect directed radio frequency or energy attacks have caused sickness and even brain damage in U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials in Cuba, China, Russia, Europe, and other places.

The mysterious illness carries symptoms that include migraines, nausea, memory lapses and dizziness. It is named Havana Syndrome after first being reported among U.S. officials in the Cuban capital in 2016.

Blinken said he has met with State Department employees around the world who described the illness and how it has disrupted their lives.

“There is no doubt in my mind that people have been directly and powerfully affected,” he said.

Based on reporting by MSNBC and Reuters

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