US and Europe deal new diplomatic blow to Russia
US authorities have decided to expel 60 Russian diplomats and close the Russian consulate in Seattle, an administration official said at a special briefing today.
"Today President Donald 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," the White House official said.
According the the official, 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 diplomats being expelled from the US include 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. They are supposed to leave the United States within a week.
At the same time, the official noted that Washington planned to leave the door open for dialogue with Moscow.
Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said that he had expressed strong objection to the US decision to expel Russian diplomats, adding that by this move the US destroyed what had left of bilateral relations.
The European Council president, Donald Tusk, said 14 EU states had expelled Russian diplomats in response to the attack, adding that “additional measures including further expulsions are not excluded in coming days, weeks.”
Germany will expel four Russian diplomats, the country’s Foreign Ministry said. "We did not make the decision in a hurry," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter, noting that Moscow was not providing assistance to the investigation.
The Polish authorities have made a decision to expel four Russian diplomats by April 4, Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said. "Poland has made a decision to declare four Russian diplomats as personae non-gratae," he said.
France will also expel four Russian diplomats with intelligence agency backgrounds. Lithuania and the Czech Republic said they would expel three with Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands expelling two each.
Ukraine, which is not an EU member, is to expel 13 Russian diplomats and Canada four.