The arrest came with Moscow embroiled in a number of spy scandals with the West and after President Vladimir Putin accused Western nations of using espionage cases to try undermine an increasingly powerful Russian Federation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with the top military staff in the Russian Defense Ministry's headquarters in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 18, 2018. It said in a short statement that he was caught during a spying operation, without adding further details.
Butina's case is seen as broadly connected to a wider Russian effort to meddle in the 2016 election with the goal of aiding then-candidate Donald Trump.
There was no immediate comment from the White House or U.S. State Department.
Spy scandals have also rocked diplomatic relations recently in other parts of the world.
This story is developing and will be updated when more information emerges.