US President Donald Trump has ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians from the United States as a way of backing up the UK over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England.
The United States also said on Monday it will be closing the Russian consulate in Seattle in response to the attempted assassination of the former Russian spy, who was a double agent, and his daughter. Both are still battling for their lives after being poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in England last month.
“The United States takes this action – in conjunction with our NATO allies and partners around the world – in response to Russia’s use of a military-grade chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom, the latest in its ongoing pattern of destabilising activities around the world,” the White House said in a statement.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the US and its allies want to send a message to Russia that “actions have consequences”.
Most of the Russians expelled from the US were intelligence officials. The order includes 12 Russian intelligence officers from Russia’s mission to the United Nations headquarters in New York.
By way of retaliation, Moscow said it will expel at least 60 staff from US diplomatic missions in Russia in response to Washington’s decision to expel Russian diplomats, Interfax news agency quoted a member of the upper house of the Russian parliament as saying.
Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, said the United State’s decision was “wrongful” and destroying what little remained of US-Russian ties, RIA news agency reported. He said Moscow’s response would be commensurate.