The turbulent relationship between President Trump and Russia has taken another shocking turn. Trump, Monday, ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian intelligence officers and has closed a Russian consulate in response to the attempted assassination of a former Russian spry earlier this month in England. The moves comes less than a week after Trump reportedly called Putin to congratulate him on his electoral win.
This current move is similar to that of Britain. They expelled Russian diplomats after the nerve agent attack. The U.S., though, is closing the consulate in Seattle becasue of its proximity to U.S. submarine bases and to Boeing’s headquarters, Fox reports.
“With these steps, the United States and our allies and partners make clear to Russia that its actions have consequences,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders noted. “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.”
48 of the 60 Russians being expelled are attached to the Russian embassy. 12 are with the United Nations. They have all been given a week to leave the country.
“Today, the United States began the process of expelling 12 intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission to the United Nations who have abused their privilege of residence in the United States,” UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement. “After a review, we have determined that the 12 intelligence operatives engaged in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security.”
The March 4 poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter is believed to have been carried out with a Soviet-produced, military-grade nerve agent. Both remain unconscious and in critical condition in London.
Prior to Monday’s actions, President Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and the leaders of France and Germany issued a joint condemnation of the attack.
“It is an assault on UK sovereignty and any such use by a state party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of international law. It threatens the security of us all,” they wrote.
Russia, for its part, continues to deny any connection to the poisoning.