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In early March, the United Kingdom dismissed 23 Russian diplomats after the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in Britain. As part of a coordinated response, on March 26, 2018, President Donald Trump announced the expulsion of 60 from the United States.
Twenty-one other countries have vowed they would also ask the diplomats to leave. Almost 140 Russians are returning home. Canada is expelling four and denying three applications. ABC News reports the other countries include Ukraine, sending home 13 diplomats; France, Germany, and Poland, four each; Poland, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic, three each; and the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Spain, and Albania, two each. One Russian diplomat will be told to leave from each of the following countries: Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Finland, Croatia, Hungary, Sweden, and Norway.
In response to what they are calling a “provocative step,” Russia vowed to retaliate. While there is no evidence of speculation about the potential reaction, Russia sent 23 British diplomats home after the U.K. sent theirs packing.
Officials deny anyone from Russia had anything to do with the attack of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. The two victims of the military-grade type nerve agent “remain in critical but stable condition at the hospital,” according to BBC News.
Diplomat Expulsion Sends a Warning to Russian Officials
The White House press secretary stated that the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the U.S. made the country “safer by reducing Russia’s ability to spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations that threaten America’s national security.” Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that the U.S. and its allies dismissing Russia’s personnel is a clear statement of intolerance against their actions.
President Trump ordered the closure of The Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Seattle, Washington. This is one of the embassies in the U.S. manned by personnel from Russia. There is no word about other consulate closures located in Washington, D.C.; Houston, Texas; and New York.
Two years ago President Barack Obama decided to expel 35 diplomats in retaliation for interfering with the American elections and the harassment of U.S. Embassy employees in Russia.
Many sources indicate the diplomats are, in fact, Russian intelligence agents. For the past 70 years, both Russia and the U.S. staffed embassies with spies. It is the job of the FBI to track, maintain records of suspected foreign spies, in what is commonly referred to as an ongoing cat-and-mouse game.
When interviewed about Obama’s decision, a former FBI counterintelligence officer told The New York Times he believed the dismissal diplomats would only temporarily stall Russia’s intelligence gathering activities in the United States.
Ironically, Trump’s orders for expulsion and closure of the Russian embassy in Seattle come on the heel of the president’s controversial phone call to President Vladimir Putin six days earlier. Trump called Putin to congratulate him for winning the election, which begs the question about the U.S. president’s true colors in regards to Russia.
By Cathy Milne
The Washington Post: Trump and the West give Putin the fight he needs
ABC News: 22 countries pledge to kick out Russian diplomats over poisoning of ex-spy
BBC News: Spy poisoning: Russian diplomats expelled across US and Europe
EMBASSY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION IN WASHINGTON, D.C.: Russian Consulates in the U.S.
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Kent Wang’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License