The United States may follow its European partners’ lead and decide to send Russian diplomats home, the media outlet reported, citing a source, who said that European diplomats were receiving “optimistic signals” that Washington would expel a “significant number” of Russian diplomatic personnel.
Furthermore, according to the CNN source, the United States has been waiting to see what measures members of the European Council would take, as on March 23, ten European countries announced they would support the United Kingdom in its decision to expel Russian diplomats.
Last week, the National Security Council recommended President Trump take action against Russia; several sources told CNN that expelling diplomatic workers would be “the most severe response under consideration.” At the same time, another source claimed that members of the National Security Council and State Department were engaged in talks with their European counterparts to determine how many they were going to expel.
On March 24, Bloomberg reported, citing two sources with knowledge of the situation, that Trump was preparing to expel “dozens” of Russian diplomats in response to the alleged poisoning attack on Sergei Skripal.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said that Moscow was “highly likely” behind the poisoning, stating that the police had found the military-grade nerve agent Novichok, allegedly developed in Russia, at the site. She then ordered the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats, which was backed by the European Council.
Moscow, in turn, has strongly denied the accusations, offering assistance in investigating the incident, as well as requesting the samples of the chemical substance in question; the UK, however, declined all request. As a response to the UK’s measures, Russia declared 23 British diplomats personae non gratae, and revoked its agreement on the UK General Consulate’s operation in St. Petersburg.
Most recently, the head of the laboratory for chemical and analytical control of the scientific center of the Russian Defense Ministry Igor Rybalchenko announced that the United States had been developing the gas A-234, saying that there was a document that confirmed this information.
"I affirm that it exactly corresponds to the formula published by Mirzayanov (Vil Mirzayanov, a Soviet chemist who moved to the USA and the author of the book on the A-234 gas). The chemical name of this substance is A-234 and was named "Novichok" by Boris Johnson, as a substance available in the Porton Down laboratory,” Rybalchenko said.
On March 4, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping mall in Salisbury, UK, after being exposed to a chemical substance. Doctors say they could suffer long-term brain damage and may never fully recover.