June 24, 2018

Trump will expel dozens of Russian diplomats over ex-spy's poisoning

27 March 2018, 08:30 | Simon Arnold

Video Russian diplomats expelled from UK

Russian diplomats expelled from UK

President Donald Trump is weighing a recommendation from his National Security Council that he expel a group of Russian diplomats from the United States in response to the poisonings of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in England, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN. France and Germany backed Mrs May's call for tougher action, though their exact plans are less clear.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said the United States is considering how to respond but would not provide details.

However, the British government has firmly accused the Russian government of carrying out the attack, and has already expelled 23 diplomats in response.

The diplomats in question are considered undercover spies who disguise as embassy staff to carry out intelligence activity, one of the aides cited by Bloomberg said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that the United States is considering a "range of options to respond to Russia's outrageous actions in the UK, both to demonstrate our solidarity with our ally and to hold Russian Federation accountable for its clear breach of global norms and agreements".

The Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom tweeted on its official account denying the letter saying: "There was no letter from Sergei Skripal to President Putin to allow him to come back to Russia". Trump discussed the issue that day with U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, FBI Director Chris Wray, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, outgoing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and others, two people familiar with the talks said.

All of the people familiar with the discussions asked not to be identified. "We have no announcements at this time".

Meanwhile, Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied rumors that Skripal had sent a letter to Putin asking him to be allowed to return to Russia. President Vladimir Putin described the accusations as "delirium" after he won another six-year term as president.

The president has recently replaced National Security Adviser McMaster with former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and Secretary of State Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, changes that could impact his administration's stance towards Russian Federation.

Following a summit in Brussels to discuss the response to the Salisbury nerve agent attack, European Union leaders gave their full-throated backing to the prime minister by adopting a statement declaring it was "highly likely #Russia is responsible" for poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, tweeted that all leaders agreed Russia's responsibility for the attack was highly likely. The president chose to congratulate Putin and did not raise the poisoning incident, US officials confirmed.

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