The West’s collective response to Russia’s alleged poisoning of British agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia may not have come at a rapid pace, but after a few weeks, it is here now. Today (March 26), the US and Europe launched a coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomats from more than 15 countries.
The US led the way, with 48 diplomats kicked out of Russia’s Washington embassy and 12 from its UN mission. State department officials said that all 60 people were spies. They also ordered the closure of Russia’s Seattle consulate.
Russia immediately responded by announcing that it would boot at least the same number of people out of America’s Moscow embassy, which is already crippled by the Kremlin ordering the US to cut (paywall) 755 diplomatic staff across Russia.
The West’s mass expulsion came as Russia mourned the deaths of at least 64 people, including dozens of children, in a shopping mall fire in the Siberian mining town of Kemerovo.
European Council president Donald Tusk said a total of 14 EU countries would expel Russian officials today. Britain kicked out 23 Russians shortly after the alleged poisoning, on March 14.