President Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian intelligence officers from the U.S., senior administration officials announced Monday, in retaliation for Moscow’s use of chemical weapons against a former Russian spy in the U.K. this month.
Out of the 60 Russians who are being ordered to leave the country, 48 work at Russian embassies and consulates and 12 at the United Nations in New York. The administration is also closing the Russian Consulate in Seattle.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement that said the Seattle consulate closure is due to its proximity to a U.S. submarine base and Boeing. Naval Base Kitsap, which is about a 90-minute drive from Seattle, houses the Navy’s West Coast-based Trident ballistic
“Today’s actions make the United States safer by reducing Russia’s ability to spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations that threaten America’s national security,” Sanders said.
Trump’s actions are meant to “make it clear to Russia that their actions have consequences,” one senior administration official said.
The Russian intelligence officials, who are considered to be aggressive information collectors, have seven days to leave the U.S.
Before taking action against Russia, Trump said he wanted evidence that the Kremlin was behind the chemical attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter on March 4. The two survived, but the U.K. and other nations have condemned Russia for the attack. The Kremlin denies any connection to the incident.