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27 March 2018, 08:31 | Colleen Roy
Image Embassy staff waved as colleagues and their children left the embassy
US and European officials said Saturday that President Donald Trump is close to expelling 20 or more Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.
American and European officials told The Washington Post, Saturday, Trump is considering expelling 20 or more Russian diplomats, and his aides are urging him to make the decision in solidarity with London.
European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have agreed to recall the bloc´s ambassador from Moscow over the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.
She declined to say what those options could be or when they might come into force.
London ordered 23 Russian diplomats back to Moscow last week after the country concluded that Russia was responsible for the poisonings. The proposal was advanced by the president's advisers during meetings on Wednesday and Friday, the officials said.
Congress has pressured Trump to get tougher on Putin and passed legislation in August giving lawmakers the power to block the president from lifting punitive US measures imposed after Russia's incursion into Ukraine.
Earlier this month, the administration imposed fresh sanctions on Russian government hackers and spy agencies for interfering in the 2016 election and for a global cyberattack that officials have described as the most destructive and costly in history.
Last week, United Kingdom suspended 21 Russian diplomats back to Moscow after the former said that Russia was "highly responsible" for the poisoning attack.
In advance of the call, the president's staff included a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" and recommending that he raise the poisoning of the former Russian spy.
A national defense strategy assembled by the Pentagon under Mattis and publicly summarized in January described China and Russian Federation as the top global adversaries of the U.S. Earlier this month, the administration slapped financial sanctions against a St. Petersburg-based internet "troll farm" and its alleged owner - a close Putin ally - whom Mueller indicted over a covert social media campaign to influence the 2016 election.
A number of European countries are expected to take further steps to punish Moscow on Monday, with the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Denmark and Ireland considering expelling Russian diplomats.
According to media reports, Detective Sergeant Bailey was one of the first who tended to Sergei and Yulia when they were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury so he was also exposed to a toxic agent and had to be taken to the hospital.
The Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom tweeted on its official account denying the letter saying: "There was no letter from Sergei Skripal to President Putin to allow him to come back to Russia".
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