President Donald Trump ordered Monday the expulsion of dozens of Russian intelligence officers from the United States and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.
“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 said in a statement. “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.”
The choice to close the Seattle facility was related to “its proximity to one of our submarine bases and Boeing.”
Russia’s Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told reporters that Russia would respond to the expulsion.
“I can say that the US understands nothing other than strength,” Antonov said. “I think that the response should be adequate. Moscow will take the appropriate decision. I think, even just as a citizen of the Russian Federation, that such provocative unreasonable steps cannot be left unanswered.”
The United Kingdom kicked 23 Russian diplomats out of the country in mid-March after declaring that Russia had used a chemical nerve agent to kill a former Russian spy in Salisbury, England.
Germany announced Monday that it also would expel Russian diplomats in response to the assassination of Sergei Skripal.
Germany will expel four Russian diplomats. To this day #Russia has shown no efforts to support investigations after the #Salisbury attack. "The decision was not taken lightly", says FM @HeikoMaas. pic.twitter.com/FypOcf2PjM
— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) March 26, 2018
With these steps, the United States and our allies and partners make clear to Russia that its actions have consequences. 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.
Other governments expelling Russian diplomats:
- Spain – 2 diplomats
- Italy – 2 diplomats
- Canada – 4 diplomats
- Estonia – 1 diplomat
- Czech Republic – 3 diplomats
- Ukraine – 13 diplomats
- Denmark – 2 diplomats
- France – 4 diplomats
- Poland – 4 diplomats
- Finland – 1 diplomat