Russia to Expel 60 U.S. Diplomats in Latest International Salvo

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today announced that Russia would expel 60 U.S. diplomats, also closing the American consulate in St. Petersburg, the latest in a diplomatic back-and-forth set off by the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter at their home outside London.


Sergei Skripal, who previously served as a Russian double-agent, and his daughter, Yulia, were exposed to a nerve agent surreptitiously placed outside Skripal’s home, including on his front door. The substance was said to be a “military-grade nerve agent” known collectively as “Novichok” and developed by the Russian government.

British authorities immediately accused Russia of involvement in the March 4th attack, expelling 23 Russian diplomats. Russia threatened to retaliate for the decision, after which the United States and 26 other countries collectively expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats, as well as “military and cultural attaches,” many of whom are accused of serving as Russian spies.

Russia’s announcement of its intention to expel 60 diplomats directly corresponds to the number of Russian diplomats expelled by the United States. The Kremlin’s decision to further respond to a situation it is viewed as instigating will serve to further heighten international tensions amid ongoing questions of Russia’s continued involvement in efforts to sway the outcome of elections in the United States and across Europe and Latin America.

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