A week after Russia told 23 U.K. diplomats to leave the country following a similar move by London, the U.S. is poised to follow suit in a deepening dispute around the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Salisbury.
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to announce the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats from the U.S. on March 26, although he may yet change his mind, Bloomberg News reported March 24, citing two people familiar with the matter. Trump reportedly wants to ensure European allies will take similar steps before announcing the move.
Russia's notice to U.K. diplomats followed British Prime Minister Theresa May's announcement to expel 23 Russian diplomats after the attack, which critically injured former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4. May said it was the single largest expulsion in over 30 years.
The U.S. president's advisers recommended the U.S. expulsion, and Trump is said to have discussed the matter with officials including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, as well as outgoing National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who announced his retirement from the Army and from public service on March 23.
"The United States stands firmly with the United Kingdom in condemning Russia's outrageous action. The president is always considering options to hold Russia accountable in response to its malign activities. We have no announcements at this time," Raj Shah, Deputy Press Secretary for the White House, told Bloomberg.