White House press secretary Sarah Sanders informed reporters during Tuesday’s briefing that a total of 150 Russian “intelligence officials” have been expelled from more than 20 countries this week over a chemical attack on U.K. soil.
The United States announced on Monday that it would expel 60 Russian “diplomats” and close the Russian embassy in Seattle, Washington. The action was taken in response to a chemical nerve agent attack three weeks ago on former intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England. White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah told reporters on Monday that the expulsion action was taken in coordination with about a dozen other countries.
“Several additional countries and NATO have followed up with similar actions since our announcement,” Sanders told reporters on Tuesday. “As of this morning over 25 countries all around the world have expelled 150 Russian intelligence officers hiding under diplomatic cover in their countries.”
Sanders reiterated repeated statements from the Trump White House that the U.S. is open to working with the Russians on areas of shared interest, but that in order to do so, Russia must understand the “serious consequences for its destabilizing actions.”
“An improved relationship will only be possible if the Russian government changes its behavior,” said Sanders.
Most of the countries moving to remove Russian officials pegged those officials as spies. U.S. neighbor to the north Canada announced it was expelling four individuals believed to be intelligence agents according to CNN, which listed the actions of 27 countries in total as of Tuesday afternoon.
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