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Russia expels US diplomats

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia on Thursday announced a mass expulsion of US diplomats and the closure of the US consulate in Saint Petersburg in retaliation to coordinated moves by Western countries to isolate Moscow in the wake of the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would expel 60 US diplomats and close Washington’s consulate in Saint Petersburg in a tit-for-tat response to the expulsion of its envoys across three continents.

In Washington, the State Department said there was no justification for the Russian move and that the United States “reserves the right to respond.’’

“It’s clear from the list provided to us that the Russian Federation is not interested in a dialogue on issues that matter to our two countries,’’ spokeswoman Heather Nauert said of the expelled diplomats.

“I want to remind you that there is no justification for the Russian response. Our actions were motivated purely by the attack on the United Kingdom, the attack on a British citizen and his daughter.

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