The United States is kicking out 60 Russian diplomats and closing Russia’s consulate in Seattle in response to the poisoning of an ex-spy in the UK.
Senior Trump administration officials said the expelled Russians include 12 spies who the US believes are working under diplomatic cover at Russia’s mission to the United Nations.
They said the Seattle consulate is a counter-intelligence concern because of its proximity to a US Navy base.
The Trump administration is expelling 60 Russian diplomats (Evan Vucci/AP)
Officials added that the actions are being taken to send a message about the “unacceptably high” number of Russian spies in the US and to respond to the attack in the UK.
The expelled Russians will have seven days to leave the US.
Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, remain in a critical condition after they were poisoned with the highly lethal nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury on March 4.
The expulsions are one of the most significant actions US president Donald Trump has taken to date against Moscow and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Less than a week ago, Mr Trump congratulated Mr Putin by phone for his re-election, but did not raise the spy case, renewing questions about whether the US president is too soft on the Kremlin.
Poland, Germany and Lithuania have also announced they will expel Russian diplomats over the case.
Last week, EU chief Donald Tusk predicted that member states would introduce measures against Moscow over its suspected role in the poisoning.
The UK has already expelled 23 Russian diplomats, accusing them of being undeclared intelligence agents, which led Russia to expel the same number of British diplomats. The European Union has already recalled its ambassador to Russia.
The UK has accused Moscow of perpetrating the attack, while the US, France and Germany have agreed it is highly likely that was the case.
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