Two days after UK Prime Minister Theresa May called for a united European Union (EU) against Russia to thwart its 'designs' in Europe, the Donald Trump administration said on Saturday, March 24, it was mulling a wide range of "options" in response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in Britain earlier in March.
It, however, did not clarify whether the options included the step of expelling Russian diplomats, something the UK has already done and many other EU countries are considering to. The EU also recalled its ambassador from Russia after May won a support on the Salisbury incident.
Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats earlier this week after accusing the latter of poisoning the Sergei and Yulia with a military grade nerve agent Novichok. May said Russia did not care for borders and the incident was a part of its aggression against Europe. Soon after, the Kremlin retaliated by expelling as many British diplomats, raising tension further. Russia's stand is Britain was trying to draw some strength after being weakened by the episode of Brexit.
'US stands by UK'
Sources in the White House said the US "stood firmly" by the UK to condemn "Russia's outrageous action", Fox News reported. It said President Trump was considering options to hold Moscow responsible while responding to its "malign activities", the report added.
It was reported that the White House's National Security Council has advised Trump to show Russian diplomats the door although observers and the American president's critics were eager to see how he eventually acts for Trump is known to be a person who admires his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin's leadership style and feels about Washington having a good relation with Moscow.
Trump ignored advice to greet Putin on his poll win
Trump called Putin to congratulate him after he won his fourth presidential term last Sunday despite warnings from his national security advisers and also defended it saying it was a "good thing". However, as CNN reported, the Salisbury incident found no mention in that call.
Trump is yet to take a strong stand on Putin on allegations like Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Hence, until Trump takes a strong stand on Russia over the Salisbury issue, one would not bet over it.
The Salisbury incident nevertheless showed a rare unity among the frontline western countries like the US, UK, France and Germany who declared jointly that the Salisbury incident was an attack on the UK's sovereignty and also a violation of international law.