Donald Trump, facing criticism for his non-reaction to the poisoning and attempted murder of a former Russian spy in the UK—widely believed to be the work of Russian state forces—has finally made a move. Sixty Russian intelligence officers will be expelled from the country, and the Russian consulate in Seattle will also be closed. This follows an incident one week ago when Trump congratulated Vladimir Putin on his victory in an election that was demonstrably corrupt, and comes in the shadow of Robert Mueller’s investigation of White House collusion with Russia during the campaign. Per Politico, here’s the makeup of the ejected officers:
On a conference call with reporters, a senior administration official said all 60 of the expelled officials are in the U.S. posing as diplomats, 48 at the Russian embassy and 12 at the Russian mission to the United Nations. They and their families will have seven days to leave the U.S.
The move follows the expulsion of 23 diplomats by UK prime minister Theresa May, who has taken a tough line from the beginning. According to the White House, this move will trigger further actions in Europe and the western world:
The administration official said Monday that “we do not act alone,” adding that the steps announced by the Trump administration would be taken in coordination with more than a dozen allies in Europe and beyond.
Trump’s act has already had echoes in other parts of the world:
Additionally, Germany and France announced Monday that they will expel four Russian diplomats each, with Poland and Lithuania to follow suit.
A White House official said Trump made the call to expel the diplomats personally, and was involved in the decision “from the beginning.”