Russian leader Vladimir Putin is retaliating against US measures to remove Russian democrats from American soil after a controversial nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom. Similarly, they, too, have kicked out 60 American diplomats currently living on Russian soil – the same number of Russian diplomats moved from the United States.
• The official announcement came from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said that removals would begin taking place almost immediately. He also indicated that the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg will close, matching Trump’s order to close the Russian consulate in Seattle.
• Both the U.S. and the U.K. blame Russia for the nerve agent attack. However, neither Putin nor his officials have accepted responsibility. In fact, Russia specifically accused the U.K. of “framing Moscow” by engaging in the attack themselves only to later blame the former soviet nation.
• U.S. Secretary of State Sarah Sanders spoke to the press shortly after they were informed of the decision. “The expulsion of undeclared Russian intelligence officers by the United States and more than two dozen partner nations and NATO allies earlier this week was an appropriate response to the Russian attack on the soil of the United Kingdom.”
• Sanders also indicated that the Trump administration expected some pushback from the Kremlin and his administration. “Russia’s response was not unanticipated, and the United States will deal with it.”
• It wasn’t immediately clear what the Secretary meant when she said the United States would “deal with it.” Further sanctions are expected, and could include additional removals or even closed borders between the two countries.
• One potential complication lies not in U.S.-Russian relations, but in relations between China and the United States – a connection currently strained by tariffs on either side. China has been involved in an “alliance of convenience” of sorts for many years; pushing at one may indeed impact relations with the other.