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US, Europe, Canada to expel dozens of Russian diplomats after UK attack


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US, Europe, Canada to expel dozens of Russian diplomats after UK attack

The United States will expel 60 Russian officials and their families in response to the nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom earlier this month, in a coordinated move announced simultaneously with expulsions by Canada and 14 European nations including Germany, France and Poland.

"Today President Donald J. Trump ordered the expulsion of dozens of Russian intelligence officers from the United States and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle due to its proximity to one of our submarine bases and Boeing," the White House said in a statement. "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."

Senior administration officials said 48 of the expelled individuals work at the Russian embassy in New York. Another 12 officials who are members of the United Nations mission in New York abused their residency privileges under the U.N. headquarters agreement, according to the administration. All 60 were engaged in intelligence work, said senior administration officials who asked not to be identified.

Trump has not spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin since Tuesday, March 20, according to the officials.

The officials declined to comment on whether the Treasury Department is mulling directly sanctioning Putin or whether Trump has spoken with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May about the expulsions.

The move came as France, Germany and Poland each said they were expelling four Russian diplomats. Canada said it would expel four diplomats and deny applications for three additional diplomatic staff.

Sergei Skripal, a former spy working for U.K. security agencies, and his daughter Yulia were left in a critical condition after being poisoned by a military-grade chemical weapon in the cathedral town of Salisbury on March 4. A British police officer was also left in a serious condition.

Russia has denied involvement.

"The European Council agreed with the United Kingdom government's assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible and that there is no plausible alternative explanation," European Council President Donald Tusk said in a statement, adding that 14 EU nations had decided to expel diplomats.