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Russia announces expulsion of 150 diplomats and closure of American consulate in St Petersburg in retaliation

Vladimir Putin

Russia has announced that it will expel 150 western diplomats and close the US consulate in St Petersburg in retaliation for similar actions taken this week by British allies following poisoning of an ex-spy in the UK. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said last evening, that the US ambassador had been informed of the retaliatory measures.

The action comes in the wake of expulsion of more than 150 Russian diplomats by European and Nato allies of Britain, which has blamed the Kremlin for the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Lavrov said Russia will be expelling the same number of diplomats in return.

US says Russia’s move marks a further deterioration in the US-Russia relationship. Hours after Russia asked American diplomats to leave the country within seven days and shut down the St Petersburg Consulate within 48 hours, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, the Russian response was not unanticipated, and the US will deal with it.

Sanders said the expulsion of undeclared Russian intelligence officers by the US and more than two dozen partner nations and NATO allies earlier this week was an appropriate response to the Russian attack on the soil of the United Kingdom.

The Trump administration had earlier ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and shutter the country’s consulate general in Seattle following the poisoning of former Russian spy in Britain.

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