The Trump administration expelled 60 Russian diplomats on Monday and ordered Russia's consulate in Seattle to close, as the United States and European nations sought to jointly punish Moscow for its alleged role in poisoning an ex-spy in Britain. Senior Trump administration officials said all 60 Russians were spies working in the US under diplomatic cover, including a dozen at Russia's mission to the United Nations, per the AP. The officials said the administration was taking the action to send a message to Russia's leaders about the "unacceptably high" number of Russian intelligence operatives in the US. The expelled Russians will have seven days to leave the US. The Seattle consulate is a counter-intelligence concern because of its proximity to a US Navy base.
The move was one of the most significant actions President Trump's administration has taken to date to push back on Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Less than a week ago, Trump congratulated Putin by phone for his re-election but didn't raise the spy case. The US actions came as more than a dozen nations, including those in Russia's neighborhood, were expected to announce similar steps to reduce Russia's diplomatic presence in their countries or other actions to punish Moscow. Poland summoned Russia's ambassador for talks, and its foreign ministry was among several in Europe planning news conferences later Monday. (Read more US-Russia relations stories.)