Washington, Mar 26 (PTI) The US today expelled 60 Russian diplomats, describing them as “intelligence officers” and ordered closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle, days after Washington warned of retaliation for the use of nerve agent against a former Russian spy in the UK.

A dozen of these expelled diplomats are based at Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN.

“Today President Donald J. Trump ordered the expulsion of dozens of Russian intelligence officers from the United States and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle due to its proximity to one of our submarine bases and Boeing,” the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, said.

All Russian diplomats, connected to the country’s intelligence agencies, and their families have been given seven days’ time to leave the country.

The White House said this is in retaliation to the use of nerve agent against former spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom, which blames Russia for the attack.

Moscow has denied these allegations. The United Kingdom has already expelled 23 Russian diplomats.

There are 100 Russian intelligence officials based in the US. This is the first step, a senior Trump administration official told reporters during a conference call and the US reserves the right to expel more.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.