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State Dept. officials say Trump admin considering expelling Russian diplomats over UK poisoning

President Donald Trump's National Security Council has drawn up a range of options should the President decide to tak...

Posted: Mar 21, 2018 9:50 AM
Updated: Mar 21, 2018 9:50 AM

President Donald Trump's National Security Council has drawn up a range of options should the President decide to take action against Russia after the poisonings of a former spy and his daughter on UK soil, according to multiple State Department officials and a person familiar with the discussion.

The officials said there have been inter-agency discussions involving the State Department and White House.

The sources said the most severe option being considered is for the US to expel more Russian diplomats. One of the officials said that would be a "very serious step," especially given the last round of tit-for-tat expulsions, which left Russia and the US with significantly smaller diplomatic forces in each other's countries.

If the US expels more Russian diplomats, in alignment with how the UK has responded to the poisonings, it would be expected that Russia would respond in kind, according to the sources.

One official cautioned, however, that expulsions are just one option the White House will consider, and there is not a good sense at this point whether the President will take any action at all.

One senior State Department official, speaking on background, supported the UK's own decision to kick out 23 Russian diplomats: "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. 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."

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