EU Gets ’Signals’ US Wants to Expel Russian Diplomats over Skripal Case - Reports
According to CNN, citing a source familiar with the situation, US President Donald Trump is weighing the National Security Council's recommendation to expel several Russian diplomats from the country as a response to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.
The US may follow its European partners' lead and decide to send Russian diplomats home, CNN reported, citing a source, who said that European diplomats were receiving "optimistic signals" that Washington would expel a "significant number" of Russian diplomatic personnel.
Furthermore, according to the CNN source, the US has been waiting to see what measures members of the European Council would take, as on March 23, ten European countries announced they would support the United Kingdom in its decision to expel Russian diplomats.
A senior foreign diplomat has told CNN that Germany, France, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Ireland and several others would "likely" send Russian diplomats back to Moscow on Monday.
Last week, the National Security Council recommended President Trump take action against Russia; several sources told CNN that expelling diplomatic workers would be "the most severe response under consideration." At the same time, another source claimed that members of the National Security Council and State Department were engaged in talks with their European counterparts to determine how many they were going to expel.
Earlier on March 24, Bloomberg reported that Trump was preparing to expel "dozens" of Russian diplomats in response to the alleged poisoning attack on Sergei Skripal.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May considered that Moscow was "highly likely" behind the poisoning, stating that the police had found the military-grade nerve agent Novichok, allegedly developed in Russia, at the site. She then ordered the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats, which was backed by the European Council.
Moscow, in turn, strongly denied the accusations, offering assistance in investigating the incident, as well as requesting the samples of the chemical substance in question; the UK, however, declined all request.
As a response to the UK's measures, Russia declared 23 British diplomats personae non gratae, and revoked its agreement on the UK General Consulate's operation in St. Petersburg.
On March 4, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping mall in Salisbury, UK, after being exposed to a chemical substance. Doctors say they could suffer long-term brain damage and may never fully recover.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team