Statement from State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert on the expulsion of U.S. Diplomats

March 29, 2018

I’d like to open with a statement from Ambassador Jon Huntsman, our Ambassador in Moscow: “This evening Ambassador John Huntsman was convoked to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian federation. They delivered a very serious message, the substance of which we factually cannot agree with. The Russian federation dubbed 60 of our staff Persona Non Grata, and they must depart within 7 days. They also ordered the closure of our consulate in St. Petersburg in 48 hours. It’s clear from the list provided to us that the Russian Federation is not interested in a dialogue on issues that matter most to our two countries.”

I just spoke with our Ambassador in Moscow and while we’re still working through the details, I did let him know that the entire State Department and US Government stands with our people out at our Mission in Russia.

As we said Monday, The United States expelled Russian intelligence personnel and required the closure of the Russian Consulate General in Seattle in response to the Russian government’s attack on our closest Ally, the United Kingdom, and its ongoing pattern of destabilizing activities in the United States and elsewhere.

Russia’s reckless attempt to murder a British citizen and his daughter on British soil with a military-grade nerve agent could not go unanswered. We were joined in our action by 28 other countries and NATO, a clear demonstration to Russia that its behavior is unacceptable and it will have consequences.

Again, there was no justification for a Russian response, as our actions were motivated purely by their attack on the United Kingdom.

Our Ambassador was called to the Russian Foreign Ministry Thursday evening. We are now reviewing the Russian government’s note informing us of their response.  It appears that Russia has chosen to take regrettable, unwarranted action to respond to our entirely justified action on Monday.

As I understand it, Russia plans to take these same unjustified actions against the 28 other countries who stood in solidarity with the UK. Russia is further isolating itself following their brazen chemical attack.

We are still reviewing the details of the Russian action, but let me say again that we reserve the right to respond further to any Russian retaliation against the United States.