The expulsions are in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury, U.K., earlier this month.
Of the 60 Russians, 48 are members of the Russian embassy, while 12 are stationed at the Russian mission to the UN, where senior administration officials said they were operating under the guise of diplomacy but were deemed to be conducting covert activities.
“Today’s actions make the United States safer by reducing Russia’s ability to spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations that threaten America’s national security,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “With these steps, the United States and our allies and partners make clear to Russia that its actions have consequences. The United States stands ready to cooperate to build a better relationship with Russia, but this can only happen with a change in the Russian government’s behavior.”
Although the Russian government has been notified of the expulsions, the issue did not come up when Trump and Russian President President Vladmir Putin spoke by phone last week.
The Russian operatives being expelled will be given seven days to leave the country, according to senior administration officials.
The expulsions are the second in less than two years. In December of 2016 President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and intelligence officials and shut down two diplomatic compounds in response to Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election.