BY: TANNER KENNEY
What: The United States expels 60 Russian intelligence officers and diplomats and closes the nation’s consular offices in Seattle after the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K.
When: March 26th, 2018
During a conference call with reporters early this morning, aides to President Donald Trump announced that the United States would expel some sixty Russian intelligence officers and diplomats from the country in addition to the shuttering of a consulate office in Seattle, WA. These actions come in direct response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, in the U.K. earlier this year.
Whilst it was initially known that the source(s) of the nerve agent would necessarily take time to identify, these moves come as an about-face for the Trump Administration, which previously refused to even address the attack publicly. That is to say nothing of the President’s refusal to enact the sanctions passed by Congress last year targeted at punishing the Russian actors involved with interference in the 2016 elections.
Today’s efforts to protect the security of the nation from all-fronts-Russian also highlight the oft-reported disfunction of the White House in regards to its public-facing stance toward the nation coupled with the complex relationships its staffers maintain, thereby hampering any genuine progress in certain arenas.
The actions most certainly strengthen the bonds between the United Kingdom and the United States; the former requested aid from the international community by presenting a united voice through the enactment of similar measures, as well as among the members of the European Union and NATO.
Regarding the American-Russian relationship, moving forward, the only certainty for the foreseeable future is that of uncertainty. When coupled with the not-so-surprising firing of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the recent ascension of former Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, to National Security Advisor following the ‘retirement’ of calm-in-comparison H.R. McMaster can be viewed as merely a predictable change of personnel.
What is certain is that Russia’s relationship with the United States just got more complex. Although this is not the first time the United States has expelled Russian officials in the near present, this would be the largest expulsion since 1986 when 55 Russian diplomats were expelled by President Ronald Reagan. Russia’s response is likely to be just as bold, which has the propensity to escalate tensions even further, harkening back to a Cold War scenario.
Tanner Kenney is an energy and media professional with a background in journalism and received his M.S. in Global Affairs, Environment & Energy Policy from NYU’s Center for Global Affairs. Recently, Tanner has focused on the advocacy of sustainable development through renewable energy technologies, transportation efficiency, and inclusive public policy.