US Expels 60 Russian Diplomats and Closes Seattle Consulate
The US and Europe are expelling dozens of Russian diplomats in a co-ordinated response to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the UK.
According to experts, it is the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history.
More than 20 countries have aligned with the UK, expelling more than 100 diplomats.
The US is expelling 60 Russian diplomats, while the EU has announced the expulsion of 33 envoys. Other European countries will expel another 23.
President of the European Council Donald Tusk said the EU states had decided to expel Russian diplomats as a direct result of a meeting, held last week about the Salisbury poisoning.
“Additional measures, including further expulsions within this common EU framework are not to be excluded in the coming days and weeks,” he said.
The state department said in a statement: “On March 4, Russia used a military-grade nerve agent to attempt to murder a British citizen and his daughter in Salisbury.
“This attack on our Ally the United Kingdom put countless innocent lives at risk and resulted in serious injury to three people, including a police officer.”
UK Expels 23 Russian Diplomats over Chemical Attack on Sergei Skripal
Meanwhile, Russia vowed to retaliate to the “provocative gesture”.
It denies any role in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, southern England. Sergei and Yulia Skripal remain in a critical but stable condition in hospital.
The Russian foreign ministry said the moves demonstrated a continuation of a “confrontational path”.
Earlier this month, the UK announced it was expelling 23 Russian diplomats.
On March 26, various countries announced they were making the same move in solidarity.
Iceland has also announced it is suspending high-level dialogue with Russian authorities, and its leaders will not attend the World Cup, which starts in Russia in June.
The UK said earlier this month it would not send ministers or members of the Royal Family to the football tournament.
EU countries that have said they have no intention of expelling diplomats include Austria, Greece and Portugal, although all have said they support the UK and condemn the poisoning.
The US called the attack an “outrageous violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and breach of international law”.
The US is expelling 48 envoys at the Russian embassy in Washington and 12 more at the UN in New York. It will also order the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.