More than 20 nations on three continents Monday vowed to boot Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England, just as the United States announced it was responding by expelling 60 Russian intelligence officers. Skripal, 66, and Yulia Skripal, 33, were found unconscious on a public bench in a shopping centre on March 4 and remain critically ill in hospital. The United States called it the largest expulsion of Russian spies in American history, and also shuttered Russia's consulate in Seattle, deeming it a counterintelligence threat.
Governments across Europe, the United States and others announced plans on Monday to expel more than 100 Russian diplomats in retaliation for the attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter on March 4. "We will work on it in the coming days and will respond to every country in turn", the RIA news agency cited an unidentified Foreign Ministry source as saying. At least 16 European Union member states are kicking out agents. In turn, Germany, Canada, Poland and France have chose to expel four diplomats each, Lithuania and the Czech Republic - three each, Australia, Albania, Denmark, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands - two each, Hungary, Latvia, Macedonia, Norway, Romania, Finland, Croatia, Sweden and Estonia - one each, while Ukraine made a decision to send away 13 Russian diplomats.
The world-wide expulsion of Russian diplomats followed the departure of 23 Russian diplomats from the United Kingdom last week over the Salisbury incident.
The aggressive actions run counter to President Donald Trump's efforts to improve ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and instead reflect the US intelligence apparatus's growing concerns of increased Russian surveillance on Washington and critical military bases.
"Russia can not break worldwide rules with impunity".
The Kremlin has accused Britain of whipping up an anti-Russia campaign and has sought to cast doubt on the British analysis that Moscow was responsible. Former KGB bodyguards identified as suspects in the murder denied any involvement. Poland's Foreign Minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, called it "the right response to the unfriendly, aggressive actions of Russian Federation".
"When we see these espionage tactics that are taking place right here at the heart of the United Nations, we can't have that", said Nikki Haley, Trump's envoy to the United Nations.
"US administration ordered the closure of the Russian Consulate in Seattle @GK_Seattle".
"Seattle is an important tech center" of interest to Russian intelligence, said the official, pointing to the 2010 US arrests of 10 members of a Russian sleeper cell. Nor did Trump raise the accusations of poisoning of the ex-spy in a phone call with Putin last week.
Trump has repeatedly wavered on whether he believes Moscow was behind the election meddling, despite assessments from USA intelligence agencies and the special counsel investigation into Russia's actions and potential collusion with Trump's campaign. Moscow also denies interference in the campaign.
Even lawmakers who have scolded Trump the loudest for failing to confront Russian Federation for spying and election meddling praised the expulsions Monday. Sen.
The U.S. has kicked out scores of Russians before, though never a group this size.
At least 116 alleged agents working under diplomatic cover were ordered out by 22 governments, dwarfing similar measures in even the most notorious Cold War spying disputes, and marking a British diplomatic victory.