WASHINGTON, March 26. /TASS/. Forty-six Russian diplomats from Washington and two from the consulate in New York will leave the United States as ordered by the US authorities while 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN have been declared personae non gratae, Russia’s Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Monday.
"I have just received additional information that another 12 diplomats from our Permanent Mission to the UN have been declared persona non grata. Besides, our Consulate General in Seattle (the state of Washington) will be closed from March 30," the ambassador said.
"We do not have a building there [in Seattle]. We are taking premises on lease for our consulate there. It will be closed on March 30. They [the consulate’s staff members] will continue their work either at one of Russian overseas establishments in the United States or … will leave for home," the ambassador said.
Earlier on Monday, Washington ordered 60 Russian diplomats, including 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, to leave the United States within a week. In addition, Russia’s consulate in Seattle will be closed.
The US said the Russian diplomats were being expelled over Skripal case.
On March 4, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and exchanged for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of a nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union. London expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow.
Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, 23 British diplomats were expelled, the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg was closed and the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia.
At the same time, Moscow pointed out that further measures could be taken "should there be any more hostile actions against Russia."