Russia expelled 60 U.S. diplomats over poisoning of a spy

Vastavam web: Russia expelled 60 U.S. diplomats on Thursday and announced it would eject scores from other countries that have joined London and Washington in censuring Moscow over the poisoning of a spy.The U.S. ambassador was also ordered to shut the consulate in St Petersburg, in Russia’s retaliation for the biggest expulsion of diplomats since the Cold War.

“Russia’s response was not unanticipated and the United States will deal with it,” the White House said in a statement without elaborating.The expulsions precisely mirrored steps taken by Western governments against Russian diplomats and appeared to show Russia was not seeking to escalate the standoff over the nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England, on March 4.

“We reserve the right to respond further. We’re reviewing our options,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, who charged that the attack on the Skripals violated an international chemical weapons ban. She declined to discuss what additional measures the Trump administration could take.Britain has blamed Russia for the poisoning, and has been backed up by dozens of Western countries which have ordered Russian diplomats to leave. The United States charges that the 60 Russians that it targeted are intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, facing a stuttering economy and an unusual show of Western unity that included even states traditionally friendly towards Moscow, appeared to have stuck to the diplomatic playbook with the symmetrical response.Ambassador Jon Hunstman was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry, a gothic skyscraper built under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, and told that 60 diplomats from U.S. missions had a week to leave Russia, as Washington had expelled 60 Russians.

“As for the other countries, everything will also be symmetrical in terms of the number of people from their diplomatic missions who will be leaving Russia, and for now that’s pretty much it,” said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.