In the wake of the Trump administration’s announcement that the United States will expel 60 Russian diplomats and close down their Seattle consulate, Kremlin officials are firing back with accusations that America is coordinating a “colossal pressure and blackmail” campaign against Russia.
According to the Russian state news agency TASS, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed the decisions of 22 other countries to expel 78 more Russian diplomats as being part of a larger American-led effort:
"The conclusion that readily offers itself is that we were quite right when we said more than once that truly independent countries in the modern world and in modern Europe are very few in number. When one or two diplomats are asked to leave this or that country, with apologies being whispered into our ears, we know for certain that this is a result of colossal pressure and colossal blackmail, which is Washington’s chief instrument in the international scene.”
Lavrov also clarified that Russia would definitely respond to the diplomatic expulsions:
“Have no doubt, we will respond, because no one would tolerate such obnoxiousness, and we won’t either.”
Lavrov and other Russian officials have categorically denied their involvement in the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England earlier this month and have publicly asserted that they want to see concrete evidence proving that Russia was behind the attack.
The 22 other countries that have taken similar actions to the U.S. are Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Ukraine, Germany, France, Poland, Czechia, Lithuania, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Albania, Hungary, Sweden, Croatia, Romania, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Ireland.
Most of these countries are members of the European Union, NATO, or both. The principal exceptions to this are Australia, which is still tied to Britain as a member of the Commonwealth (former parts of the British empire), and Ukraine, which has been fighting against Russian-backed insurgents in the eastern part of the country for the past four years.
After the United States, Great Britain and Ukraine have expelled the most diplomats (23 and 13, respectively), while the other countries have stuck to expelling anywhere from one to four diplomats (see here for a more detailed breakdown).