Washington D.C. [USA]: United States President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to expel a group of Russian diplomats from the country, in the wake of the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom earlier this month, according to a source.
“It is believed that the US had been waiting to see what members of the European Council would do, a source with knowledge of the discussions told CNN.
On Friday, 10 European Union (EU) countries announced they would follow the United Kingdom’s lead by also expelling Russian diplomats from their respective countries.
“Germany, France, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Czech, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Ireland and several others will “likely” expel the Russians on Monday, said a senior foreign diplomat.
The National Security Council’s recommendation to President Trump, made on Friday, comes after a high-level meeting at the White House on Wednesday, in which the council drew up a range of options to take action against Russia, according to multiple US State Department officials and a source familiar with the discussion.
During the meeting, it was recommended that the US President should take the decision to expel the Russian diplomats from the country.
Last week, UK suspended 21 Russian diplomats back to Moscow after the former said that Russia was “highly responsible” for the poisoning attack.
On Tuesday, a senior US State Department official, speaking on background, supported the UK’s own decision to kick out 23 Russian diplomats, “We stand in solidarity with our Allies in the United Kingdom, and we fully supported the UK’s decision to expel diplomats and take other actions to respond. The United States is considering a range of options to respond to this outrageous incident, both to demonstrate our solidarity with our Ally and to hold Russia accountable for its clear breach of international norms and agreements.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May called the incident “a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil.” and has accused Russia for carrying out the attack.
However, Moscow has denied any wrongdoing. President Vladimir Putin described the accusations as “delirium” after he won another six-year term as president.
The EU on Monday strongly condemned the poisonous attack on the spy Sergei Skripal, while stating that it takes the UK assessment of Moscow’s possible involvement in it “extremely seriously.”
Retired military intelligence officer Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury city centre on March 4. However, they remain in a critical but stable condition in hospital.
According to media reports, Skripal was convicted by the Russian government of passing secrets to UK’s Secret Intelligence Service MI6 in 2004, but was given refuge in the UK in 2010 as part of a “spy swap.