Russian officials said Thursday that they will expel 60 American diplomats and shutter the United States consulate in St. Petersburg, in retaliation for a Trump Administration move earlier in the week, booting 60 Russian diplomats and closing the Russian embassy in Seattle.
The United States acted in concert with nearly 20 other nations when it banished a host of Russian officials from American soil. After discovering that the Kremlin had likely poisoned an ex-Soviet spy on British soil, a coalition of states elected to undertake a mass expulsion of Russian diplomats, some of whom, American officials suggested, were likely agents themselves.
Russia said Thursday that it intends to respond to the aggressive act in kind, according to Bloomberg. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told media that Russia intends to take its own aggressive measures against the United States, “includ[ing] the expulsion of the same number of diplomats.”
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister also reportedly handed the U.S. Ambassador, Jon Huntsman, a note that called the Trump Administration’s actions “revolting and groundless.”
After conducting an “unofficial” Twitter poll, the Russian government also says its people want the United States consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city after Moscow, closed.
The United States State Department responded by saying that “[t]here is no justification for this response” and that it is clear Russia is directly “responsible for that horrific attack on the British citizen and his daughter.” A State Department official also told Bloomberg that the United States may consider further action.