U.S. expels 60 Russians, stands with Allies over nerve agent attack

Police tape in front of scene (© Matt Dunham/AP Images)
British police protect the area where victims were found after exposure to a nerve agent. (© Matt Dunham/AP Images)

The United States, standing firm with its NATO allies, ordered 60 Russian intelligence officers and diplomats to leave the country following an attack on a British citizen and his daughter with a military-grade nerve agent.

The White House denounced the March 4 attack in the United Kingdom as the latest in a series of destabilizing activities around the world by Russia.

The actions are being taken “in conjunction with our NATO allies and partners” to “make clear to Russia that its actions have consequences,” the White House said. President Trump’s order will force 48 Russian diplomats to leave. Also, the U.S. will require Russia to close its consulate in Seattle, which is near U.S. submarine bases and the aerospace company Boeing.

Separately, the U.S. has begun 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.

The moves “demonstrate our unbreakable solidarity with the United Kingdom” and impose consequences on Russia for its “outrageous violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and breach of international law,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Former Russian spy Sergei V. Skripal, now a British citizen, and daughter Yulia Skripal fell violently ill in Salisbury, England, after coming into contact with what U.K. officials say was a Russian military-grade nerve agent. They are still hospitalized. A police officer who came to their aid also became ill and is recovering.

The attack “put countless innocent lives at risk,” Nauert said. The U.S. called on Russia to accept responsibility and demonstrate it can live up to its commitments to uphold international peace and security.