The arrest comes as Russia-U.S. ties have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
>> Who is Maria Butina, the woman charged with acting as a Russian agent in the US?
Maria Buttina, a 30-year-old Russian citizen living in Washington D.C., pleaded guilty earlier this month to conspiracy to act as an illegal foreign agent in the United States. Authorities said she was acting at the direction of a Russian official.
In October, U.S. authorities charged Russian national Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, with conspiring to interfere in U.S. midterm elections. That same month, Justice Department officials accused seven Russians of acting as officers for Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, and charged them with hacking and wire fraud, among other charges.
In a new year letter addressed to President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed a desire to improve U.S.-Russia relations in 2019, The Guardian reported. In a statement, Kremlin officials said Putin's letter stressed that U.S.-Russia relations are "the most important factor for providing strategic stability and international security," according to The Guardian.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.