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 US State Department deems unjustified Russia's decision to expel 60 US diplomats, close down consulate in St. Petersburg

Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State Heather Nauert says there is no justification for the Russia's decision to expel 60 U.S. staff and close down U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg.

"I want to remind you that there is no justification for the Russian response. Our actions were motivated purely by the attack on the United Kingdom, the attack on a British citizen and his daughter," Nauert told a briefing on March 29, Censor.NET reports.

"Remember, this is a first time that a weapons-grade nerve agent, Novichok, has been used outside of war on allied soil. We have not taken these steps lightly; we’ve taken these steps in concert with our allies across the world," she stressed.

Read more: Russia acknowledges some of its expelled diplomats are spies

"Twenty-eight countries now join the United States backing our allies in the decision to have kicked out 153 Russian spies from the various countries. Georgia is the latest country that has joined us in this effort. I believe they announced today that they would kick out one spy, which is significant, given that Georgia is in the backyard of Russia," Nauert said.

"As I understand it, Russia plans to take the same unjustified actions against 28 other countries, countries that stood in solidarity with the UK. Russia is further isolating itself following the brazen chemical attack. We are still reviewing the details of the Russian action, but let me say, again, that we reserve the right further to any Russian retaliation against the United States," the spokesperson said.

Read more: "The end result – 151 Russian intelligence personnel sent home to Moscow," - US State Department

As reported, Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and daughter Yulia Skripal, 33, remain critically ill in hospital, after they were found unconscious on a bench in the Wiltshire city on March 4. The UK government says they were poisoned with a nerve agent of a type developed by Russia called Novichok and PM Theresa May said she believed Moscow was "culpable."

UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats as part of a "full and robust" response – prompting Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to say it will "certainly" expel British diplomats in response.

Read more: Canadian minister says Russia's behavior unacceptable, calls Salisbury nerve agent attack "horrendous and despicable"

On March 16, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance had "no reason to doubt the findings and assessments by the British government" which suggested Russian responsibility. He said the "UK is not alone" and Nato allies gave "strong political support" to Britain, following a joint statement from the US, France and Germany backing Mrs May's government and a pledge of support from Australia.

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said that the U.K.'s government believes that it was likely Putin's decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the U.K.

On March 26, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians from the United States, including 12 people identified as Russian intelligence officers who have been stationed at the United Nations in New York.

Источник: https://censor.net.ua/en/n3058641