The Trump Administration expelled 60 Russia diplomats on Monday in response to Russia allegedly poisoning a former Russian spy and his daughter.
In an act of solidarity with Britain, U.S. Western allies, including Italy, Denmark, France, Poland, and Germany have all expelled Russian diplomats as well. The EU expelled 30 people, Ukraine 13 and Canada seven.
“Today President Donald J. Trump ordered the expulsion of dozens of Russian intelligence officers from the United States and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle due to its proximity to one of our submarine bases and Boeing,” said Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. “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 American expulsion order, announced by administration officials, includes 12 people identified as Russian intelligence officers who have been stationed at the United Nations in New York, and also closes the Russian consulate in Seattle. The Russians and their families have seven days to leave the United States, according to officials,” writes the New York Times. “In a call with reporters, senior White House officials said that the move was to root out Russians actively engaging in intelligence operations against the country, and to show that the United States would stand with NATO allies. The officials said that the closure of the consulate in Seattle was ordered because of its proximity to a U.S. naval base.”
President Donald Trump has been criticized for taking a relaxed stance when it comes to Russia and for attempting to develop a closer relationship with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But White House officials are standing with Western allies to send a message.
“We want to work with Russia, but this kind of an action cannot be tolerated,” said Raj Shah, White House spokesman on Monday. He also said the “U.S. and our allies and partners around the world made clear to Russia that actions have consequences.”
The White House’s action was deemed the best move for the U.S. national security.
“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,” said the White House in a statement.
After a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned while in the UK with “military grade” poison a few weeks ago, Russia was eventually linked to the attack.
“We are in deep discussions,” said Trump on March 15. “A very sad situation. It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it. Something that should never, ever happen. And we’re taking it very seriously, as I think are many others.”
Now, the tension between the UK and Russia has hit Cold War levels.
“U.S. officials called the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, an attack on America’s closest ally and a reckless attempt to murder a British citizen on British soil. One official said more than 100 people were affected by the attack, which May’s government has said employed a class of nerve agent manufactured by the Soviet Union called “Novichok,” writes Bloomberg. “The Skripals remain “critically ill” in the hospital and doctors advised late last week that “they may never recover fully,” May said on Monday,”
However, the Kremlin continues to claim that the government had nothing to do with the poisoning.
Jacek Czaputowicz, Poland’s foreign minister went as far to call the incident an “unprecedented attack on civilians with the use of chemical weapon” and that was a strategic move by Russia to “disrupt international order and create a sense of danger.”
Last week, EU leaders said in a statement that it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind the attack and that there was “no plausible alternative explanation.”
Just last week, Trump congratulated Putin for his re-election on a phone call and said that he hoped to meet in the “not-too-distant future” with Putin.
Author’s note: Killing someone with a nerve agent is classic old KGB stuff, so the attack is likely Russia’s doing. The interesting this is that they could easily have made it untraceable, but Russia wanted to send a message to potential spies and defectors and it has. But, it has strained Russia’s relationship with the UK and its Western Allies, all of which had no other option but to expel the Russia diplomats.