MOSCOW, March 26. /TASS/. Washington is expelling Russian diplomats to make the United States a safer place and limit the activities of "intelligence officers" threatening America’s national security, US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said in a statement on Monday.
"Today [US] President [Donald] Trump announced the expulsion of dozens of Russian intelligence officers from the United States along with the closure of its Consulate in Seattle, Washington," he said. "This is the largest expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in the United States’ history. The United States takes this action in conjunction with our NATO allies and partners around the world in response to a military-grade chemical weapon attack on the soil of the United Kingdom by Russia."
"Today’s actions make the United States a safer place by limiting the ability of Russia to spy on Americans and conduct covert activities that threaten America’s national security," he pointed out. According to the ambassador, Washington’s decisions are a signal for Moscow that "its actions have consequences."
"The United States is ready to cooperate and forge a better relationship between our two countries. But that will only be possible when Russia chooses to become a more responsible partner," Huntsman concluded.
Earlier in the day, the US administration said 48 Russian diplomats and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York would be expelled from the country. In addition, the Consulate in Seattle, Washington, will be closed. The Russian diplomats have seven days to leave the US. The pretext for the expulsion was the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergei Skripal convicted in Russia of spying for the UK and his daughter Yulia. According to Britain’s version, they were exposed to a nerve agent in the city of Salisbury.
Later on, London claimed that this substance had been developed in Russia accusing Moscow of involvement in the incident. Russia has flatly rejected these allegations pointing out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia had any programs to develop this substance.