Russia said it’s expelling 60 U.S. diplomats and closing the American consulate in St. Petersburg in a retaliatory move linked to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in England.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the measures against the U.S. “include the expulsion of the same number of diplomats” as the Russian envoys ordered out by President Donald Trump. Other countries that recently kicked out Russian diplomats also will face mirror-image retaliation, Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on Thursday.
The measures came in a crisis over a nerve-agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter that the U.K. government is blaming on Russia. While the Kremlin’s action underscores the tense relations between Washington and Moscow, the use of a customary tit-for-tat response suggest that President Vladimir Putin isn’t looking to escalate the situation.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Russia had vowed retaliation after the U.S., NATO and 25 allies including Germany and France expelled almost 130 Russian diplomats this week in support of the U.K., which kicked out 23 Kremlin envoys on March 14.
While the scale of the coordinated action was unprecedented, the decision of Paris and Berlin to limit expulsions to four diplomats each, in contrast to the 60 ordered out by the U.S., has stoked expectations in Russia that France and Germany still want to work with Putin.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister…