President Trump on Monday ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian intelligence officers in the United States and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle in response to the nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy in the U.K. earlier this month, senior administration officials said.
The steps, following Britain’s expulsion of Russian diplomats, are meant to send a message to Moscow that actions have consequences, the officials said. The Seattle consulate is being closed because of its proximity to submarine bases, as well as Boeing.
“With these steps, the United States and our allies and partners make clear to Russia that its actions have consequences,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. “The United States stands ready to cooperate to build a better relationship with Russia, but this can only happen with a change in the Russian government’s behavior.”
Russian diplomats were expelled from 14 EU states today in an unprecedented show of defiance to the Kremlin over the Salisbury attack.
EU Council President Donald Tusk revealed the coordinated action at a press conference in Bulgaria today.
Germany, France and Poland each expelled four diplomats, which Lithuania, Latvia and the Czech Republic also took action. Ukraine – not an EU state – joined the European revolt by expelling 13 diplomats.
Britain led the way in the aftermath of the March 4 attack by expelling 23 Russian diplomats from London. The Kremlin kicked out 23 Britons as a reprisal.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said she ‘welcomes the action by our allies’, adding that it demonstrates ‘we stand shoulder to shoulder in sending the strongest signal to Russia that it cannot continue to flout international law’.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hailed the ‘largest collective expulsion’ in history and said it would help defend our ‘shared security’.
Russia’s Foreign ministry slammed the ‘provocative’ expulsions and vowed to respond in kind.