US Weighs Recommendation to Expel Russian Diplomats

Mar 27, 2018, 08:34
US Weighs Recommendation to Expel Russian Diplomats

US President Donald Trump is considering expelling a group of Russian diplomats from the United States over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain issue.

On Friday, after a European Council meeting, 10 European nations announced they would expel Russian diplomats in solidarity with the United Kingdom, which removed its diplomats from Moscow and ordered 23 Russian diplomats to leave the country earlier this week. Up to European 20 nations, including Germany, France, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and the Czech Republic are now considering following Britain's lead. In choosing to congratulate the Russian leader, Trump reportedly ignored the recommendations of national security advisers.

The U.S. considers the diplomats to be spies, carrying out intelligence activities under cover as embassy staff, one of the people said.

The advisers reached recommendations for a USA response to the United Kingdom attack at a National Security Council meeting last Wednesday and honed the proposals last Friday.

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All of the people who discussed the president's deliberations asked not to be identified. "We have no announcements at this time", he said.

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 Russian Federation, according to multiple US State Department officials and a source familiar with the discussion.

A battle within the White House over how to best address the provocations of Russian President Vladimir Putin has been intensifying.

Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, today said the UK's accusations "border on banditry", according to the Russian state-backed RIA news agency.

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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.

Congress has pressured Mr Trump to get tougher on Mr Putin and passed legislation last August giving lawmakers the power to block the president from lifting punitive U.S. measures imposed after Russia's incursion into Ukraine.

In a significant boost for Theresa May, the US President could take action as soon as Monday following the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

Russia has vehemently denied any responsibility for the incident, while Vladimir Chizhov, Russian ambassador to the European Union, said that "from the legal point of view the Russian state had nothing against him [Skripal]".

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Trump has repeatedly stated he intends to have a good personal relationship with Putin, and on Wednesday tweeted those who wanted him to "excoriate" Putin over the allegedly unfair elections were 'wrong!'.

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