President Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats that the US considers spies and ordered the closure of Russia’s Seattle-based consulate. These expulsions mark the strongest move against Russia under President Trump. These orders come after the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England.
As previously reported by TGP:
The former spy was convicted in 2006 of spying for Britain and imprisoned in Russia. He was freed in 2010 as part of a swap in which the U.S. agreed to hand over 10 members of a Russian sleeper cell found operating in America in return for four Russians convicted of spying for the West.
The 60 Russians expelled from the US break down to 48 involved with the Russian embassy and 12 at Russia’s mission to the UN; they were all given one week the leave the US.
Despite Russian officials repeatedly denying involvement in the nerve attack, a senior administration official stated, “Today we say to Russia, when you attack our friends, you will face serious consequences,” and that these actions will help to decrease Russia’s “increasingly aggressive intelligence activities” in the U.S.
More Via Evening Standard:
It added that the US had taken the action in conjunction with Nato allies and global parters “in response to Russia’s use of a military-grade chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom.”
Officials added that the actions are being taken to send a message about the “unacceptably high” number of Russian spies in the US and to respond to the attack in the UK. […]
President of the European Council Donald Tusk tweeted: “Today 14 EU Member States decided to expel Russian diplomats as direct follow-up to #EUCO discussion last week on #SalisburyAttack. Additional measures including further expulsions are not excluded in coming days, weeks.”
Following the move the Russian ambassador to Washington accused America of “destroying what is left of relations with Russia”.