Trump expels 60 Russian diplomats, closes Seattle consulate — we’re awaiting Russia’s response

If you’re like us, then you’ve been keeping up with the unfolding drama between Russia and the West. Here’s a recap of what’s happened so far today…

This morning, the Trump administration announced that they had expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers posing as diplomats in the U.S., in response to the Kremlin’s alleged role in poisoning an ex-spy and his daughter in Britain. It’s the largest diplomatic expulsion in history. In addition, the Russian Consulate in Seattle will be permanently closed, largely due to counterintelligence concerns given its proximity to a major U.S. Navy base and a Boeing facility.

Canada, Germany, France, Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Italy, and a number of other European nations also announced today that they were giving some Russian diplomats the boot for the same reason.

White House officials told U.S. media that all 60 Russians were spies working under diplomatic cover, including more than a dozen at Russia’s mission to the UN. It’s the largest diplomatic expulsion in U.S. history. They have seven days to leave the United States.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the actions would make the U.S. safer by “reducing Russia’s ability to spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations” that threaten U.S. national security.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin spokesman said that Russia regrets the decisions to remove Russian diplomats, and that Russian officials are currently working on reciprocal steps. Russia has consistently denied that officials had anything to do with the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy who now lives in Britain.

As for the coordinated announcement from over a dozen Western nations today, the Kremlin spokesman said that “such things did happen in the history of international relations” and then refused to comment on whether or not this would affect a potential U.S.-Russian summit and U.S. relations. We are awaiting the Russian response.

The question now is does this move the needle towards war between NATO and Russia? That’s something we’re watching very closely. Each week, Jon Dougherty, our Strategic Threats Analyst, produces a situation report on the potential for war with Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. He monitors foreign media outlets for information not being reported in the U.S., and then delivers updates on the risk of war in each of the four flashpoint regions. If you want to get a head start in understanding what a war with these countries is looking like, then you can get access to his Strategic Intelligence service with a monthly or annual subscription.




Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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