DAMASCUS, SYRIA (4:50 P.M.) – Up to 60 Russian diplomats were given only one week to leave the United States as the US authorities decided to close the Russian consulate in Seattle due to the Skripal case.
“The United States takes this action in conjunction with our NATO allies and partners around the world in response to Russia’s use of a military-grade chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom,” a White House statement said, “Today’s actions make the United States safer by reducing Russia’s ability to spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations that threaten America’s national security.”
The diplomats being expelled from the US include 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations.
In the same context, several European countries decided to expel Russian diplomats in the wake of the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in England.
The countries include Germany, France, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ukraine.
London has accused Russian of poisoning – with a nerve agent – former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain during the 1990s and early 2000s.