President Donald Trump is considering expelling a group of Russian diplomats from the United States in response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain, according to a report.
American and European officials told The Washington Post Saturday that Trump is considering expelling 20 or more Russian diplomats, and his aides are urging him to make the decision in solidarity with London.
CNN first reported on Friday that Trump was weighing a recommendation from his National Security Council that he should expel Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, who were found unconscious on March 4 on a bench in the British city of Salisbury.
“We stand in solidarity with our allies in the United Kingdom, and we fully supported the UK’s decision to expel diplomats and take other actions to respond,” a senior State Department official was quoted by CNN as saying.
“The United States is considering a range of options to respond to this outrageous incident, both to demonstrate our solidarity with our ally and to hold Russia accountable for its clear breach of international norms and agreements.”
The Trump administration has reportedly been waiting to see what members of the European Council would do before taking any action.
The president met earlier this week with the National Security Council to discuss his range of options, officials told CNN.
NSC and State Department officials are in contact with their European counterparts to gauge how many diplomats they are planning to expel.
At least 10 European countries have announced that they would follow Britain’s lead by expelling Russian diplomats.
Russia says it is extremely uncomfortable with Europe’s stance on the poisoning of former double agent and his daughter in Britain.
The UK ordered 23 Russian diplomats back to Moscow last week after the country concluded that Russia was responsible for the poisoning of the Skripals.
London claims the Soviet-designed Novichok nerve agent has been used to poison the pair and points the finger at Russia.
Moscow has rejected the claims as “absurd,” saying the substance used in the attack could have originated from the countries studying it, including Britain itself. It has offered cooperation with London in probing the case.