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Russia expels 60 US diplomats in escalating global standoff

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Russia expels 60 US diplomats in escalating global standoff

Russia expels 60 US diplomats in escalating global standoff
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In the latest move in a growing global standoff, Moscow has ordered the expulsion of 60 US diplomats and the closing of the American consulate in St Petersburg.

"If anybody slaps your cheek, your face, what will be reaction from your side? ... You will retaliate. It goes without saying."

Anatoly Antonov Russian Ambassador to US

The decision comes a day after Russia banished 59 diplomats from 23 other countries, having summoned their ambassadors to give them the news.

Tit-for-tat

It is the latest retaliatory move in a tit-for-tat row that has seen 150 Russian diplomats expelled from two dozen countries in a show of solidarity with the UK over the poisoning of former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, on British soil.

Although Moscow has always denied any involvement in the attack, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats shortly afterwards.

US-Russian relations "very bad"

America's decision that it, too, would banish Russian diplomats led to a plummeting in relations between Washington and Moscow, after the thaw experienced under US President Donald Trump.

In an interview with NBC's Savannah Guthrie, the Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov described the state of affairs between the two countries as "very bad".

Meanwhile, Russian consular staff in Seattle were winding up operations there on Friday, and a Russian airplane was getting ready to transport expelled nationals out of the US.