The Trump administration has decided to expel 60 Russian diplomats and to close Russia’s consulate in Seattle in a show of force against the Kremlin following a nerve-agent attack on a former Russian spy on British soil this month.
Twelve of the diplomats facing expulsion are intelligence operatives “from the Russian Mission to the United Nations who have abused their privilege of residence in the United States,” the State Department said.
The White House said the ousting of diplomats will also reduce Russia’s ability to “spy on Americans” and shows that “actions have consequences,” noting that the consulate is closing due to “its proximity to one of our submarine bases and Boeing.”
“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 destabilizing activities around the world,” the White House press release reads. “Today’s actions make the United States safer by reducing Russia’s ability to spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations that threaten America’s national security.”
Several other countries have joined in to express solidarity with Britain over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. The U.K. expelled 23 Russian diplomats this month, and 14 European Union member states announced Monday morning that they will also expel more than 30 more. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in critical condition at an English hospital.
The countries reported to be ordering expulsions include Germany, France, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Italy, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Latvia, Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Estonia, and Poland.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also announced Monday that his nation—acting in solidarity with the U.S. and EU—will expel 13 Russian diplomats.
Poroshenko also called for “raising the price” for Moscow through financial and economic sanctions, the Associated Press reported. European Union President Donald Tusk said there could soon be additional measures—including more expulsions.
The State Department said Monday that the White House’s actions “demonstrate our unbreakable solidarity with the United Kingdom, and [ability] to impose serious consequences on Russia for its continued violations of international norms.”
—Julia Arciga also contributed to this report.