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President Donald Trump is weighing a recommendation from his National Security Council that he expel a group of Russian diplomats from the U.S. in response to the poisonings of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in England, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
"We agreed - Germany and France at least - that such reactions are still necessary in addition to recalling the ambassador".
White House spokesman Raj Shah said the U.S. is considering how to respond but would not provide details.
A number of European countries are expected to take further steps to punish Moscow on Monday, with the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Denmark and Ireland considering expelling Russian diplomats.
CNN first reported on Friday Trump was weighing a recommendation from his National Security Council that he should expel Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, who were found unconscious on March 4 on a bench in the British city of Salisbury.
The diplomats in question are considered undercover spies who disguise as embassy staff to carry out intelligence activity, one of the aides cited by Bloomberg said.
The advisers reached recommendations for a United States response to the UK attack at a National Security Council meeting last Wednesday and honed the proposals last Friday.
The Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom tweeted on its official account denying the letter saying: "There was no letter from Sergei Skripal to President Putin to allow him to come back to Russia".
All of the people familiar with the discussions asked not to be identified. There is no Russian ambassador in Ukraine for a long time, we did not accept agreement for a new ambassador, as there is no Ukrainian ambassador to Russia.
"As for the decision taken, we regret in this context that again such decisions are taken using the wording ´highly likely´", President Vladimir Putin´s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.
In a significant boost for Theresa May, the US President could take action as soon as Monday following the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.
The National Security Council's recommendation to President Trump, made on Friday, comes after a high-level meeting at the White House on Wednesday, in which the council drew up a range of options to take action against Russian Federation, according to multiple US State Department officials and a source familiar with the discussion.
Trump, however, has refrained from criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin, including in a phone call earlier this month after Russia's disputed presidential elections.
Earlier this month, the administration slapped financial sanctions against a St Petersburg-based internet "troll farm" and its alleged owner - a close Putin ally - whom Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted over a covert social media campaign to influence the 2016 election.
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