Expelled: Trump responds to U.K. poisoning by booting 60 Russian diplomats

Trump also announced that the Russian consulate in Seattle would be shuttered

Published March 26, 2018 10:29AM (EDT)

 (AP/Alexei Nikolsky/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP/Alexei Nikolsky/Carolyn Kaster)

In a move of solidarity with European allies, President Donald Trump announced on Monday the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats from the United States.

The decision comes after British Prime Minister Theresa May expelled 23 Russian diplomats earlier this month, in response to the Kremlin's alleged role in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter inside the United Kingdom.

Of the diplomats expelled from the U.S., 12 are based at the United Nations in NewYork, while 48 are based in Washington D.C. at the Russian embassy. The Russian consulate in Seattle, Washington, is also set to close by April 2.

While Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have exchanged tit-for-tat diplomat expulsions in the past, this is the most substantial action taken against the nation so far.

"On March 4, Russia used a military-grade nerve agent to attempt to murder a British citizen and his daughter in Salisbury," the State Department announced in a press release. "This attack on our Ally the United Kingdom put countless innocent lives at risk and resulted in serious injury to three people, including a police officer."

The statement continued, "We take these actions to demonstrate our unbreakable solidarity with the United Kingdom, and to impose serious consequences on Russia for its continued violations of international norms."

"The United States calls on Russia to accept responsibility for its actions and to demonstrate to the world that it is capable of living up to its international commitments and responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council to uphold international peace and security," the statement said.

Trump has repeatedly been criticized for his unwillingness to take a hard stance against Putin, especially so amidst the ongoing investigation into his presidential campaign's alleged ties with the Kremlin. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has labeled the investigation a "witch hunt."

Last week, the president called Putin — against the "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" warning by his top advisers — to applaud his electoral victory.

Along with the U.S., 14 European nations including France, and Germany will move to expel Russian diplomats.

The moves show that tensions with Russia and the Western world have continued to escalate.

By Charlie May

MORE FROM Charlie May