U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Tuesday that the U.S. is expelling Russian intelligence agents to pressure Russia into ceasing its "unacceptable" behavior.
Haley, discussing an announcement Monday that the U.S. would expel 60 Russian diplomats, said it is important that the U.S. and the international community refuse to allow the Russian government to get away with its involvement in poisoning Sergei Skripal, a Russian defector and current British citizen who was a spy for the United Kingdom. The attack was carried out with a Russian chemical weapon, leading President Donald Trump and other world leaders to condemn Russia's actions.
"When you do something that’s unacceptable, you pay the price for it," Haley said. "What the international community wants to see is that Russia steps up and acts like everyone else in the international community."
Haley said the U.S. and the international community did not enjoy singling out Russia.
"We take no joy in having to do this, but we're not going to roll over and let them get away with this the way they have," she said.
The U.S. also closed Russia's consulate in Seattle.
The Kremlin has denied responsibility for the attack without providing an explanation for how the nerve agent came to be used. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia will have a response to the expulsions.
"Rest assured, we will respond," Lavrov said. "The reason is that no one would like to tolerate such obnoxiousness and we won’t either."
He also said the international community's response is the result of "colossal blackmail" carried out by the U.S.
"When one or two diplomats are asked to leave this or that country, with apologies being whispered into our ears, we know for certain that this is a result of colossal pressure and colossal blackmail, which is Washington’s chief instrument in the international scene," Lavrov said.
Lavrov criticized the countries taking measures against Russia, many of which have also expelled diplomats, saying they have violated "norms of civilized bilateral dialogue and international relations."
Haley has also spoken out against Russia for its involvement in chemical attacks in the Middle East, where it has backed Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.