The United States has announced that it would expel 60 Russian diplomats, joining governments across Europe in punishing the Russia for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain that they have blamed on Moscow.
The expulsion is seen has the strongest action that U.S. President Donald Trump had taken against Russia. Donald Trump has been criticized by Democrats and members of his own Republican Party for failing to be tough enough on Russia over U.S. allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. electoral system, including the 2016 presidential campaign.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, welcoming the show of solidarity, said 18 countries had announced plans to expel Russian officials. Those included 14 European Union countries. In total, 100 Russian diplomats were being removed, the biggest Western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.
Australia later confirmed it was expelling two Russian diplomats identified as undeclared intelligence officers, citing Russia’s “reckless and deliberate conduct”. New Zealand said it had no such agents operating on its shores but would expel them if it did.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Twitter Monday’s “extraordinary international response by our allies stands in history as the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers ever and will help defend our shared security”.
May said the coordinated measures sent the “strongest signal to Russia that it cannot continue to flout international law”.