President Donald Trump ordered 60 Russian diplomats that his administration says are spies out of the United States on Monday.
The operatives acting on behalf of Moscow have seven days to leave the country, U.S. officials said. A consulate in Seattle, Washington, is also being shuttered.
Senior administration officials said the expulsions are in direct response to the nerve gas agent attack in the U.K. earlier this month that has been blamed on Vladimir Putin’s government.
President Donald Trump ordered 60 Russian diplomats that his administration says are spies out of the United States on Monday
The 60 diplomats, 12 of whom are stationed at the United Nations, were not identified by name.
U.S. officials described the 60 as ‘known intelligence officers’ who have engaged in an ‘aggressive collection’ of information.
The action, which the U.S. floated in the press over the weekend, came after President Trump was rebuked publicly for a friendly call he had last week with Putin.
Trump congratulated Putin in his landslide reelection and did not mention the nerve gas attack on a former Russian spy in the U.K.
The American president fumed on Twitter afterward that having a good relationship with Russia was in the United States’ benefit.
But on Monday, U.S. officials said that the government was standing by its closest ally and would punish Russia for the Salisbury attack.
The deployment of the Russian nerve gas left double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia hospitalized in critical condition.
Putin’s government has denied that the Kremlin authorized the assassination attempt.
British Prime Minister Theresa May initially assessed that it was ‘highly likely’ that Moscow was behind the assault — a hesitation that the U.S. pinpointed on Monday as it justified a delay in retaliatory action for the crime that took place three weeks prior.
The U.K. determined a week after the March 4 assault that the nerve agent, known as ‘Novichok,’ was of Russian design.