Seattle at center of retaliation against Russia

VIDEO: Thousands of local Russians left scrambling after White House sanctions

SEATTLE — The Trump administration expelled 60 Russian diplomats this morning and ordered the closure of the Russian Consulate in Seattle.

The U.S. is responding in solidarity with Great Britain after Russia was accused of trying to assassinate a former Russian spy with a nerve agent in London.

Russian families in Seattle didn't know about the closure until they arrived at the consulate to pick up passports.

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“I think there is just a lot of uncertainty right now because people don't know (what is) going to happen,” said Alex Bendetov, who was unsuccessful at getting the passport his baby daughter needed to travel.

The White House has pointed out that the Russian Consulate in Seattle is close to sensitive places, such as the Boeing plants in Everett and Renton, and Naval Base Kitsap ,which includes Bremerton and the nuclear missile submarine base at Bangor.

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“The tracking of both the submarines as well as personnel off and on board in this case is providing the Russians with targets of opportunity to potentially spot and assess for future agents."

Retired counterintelligence agent David Gomez worked in the Seattle FBI office.

“I'm not privy to talk about cases that I was aware of, but certainly there was sufficient activity for us to have maintained a certain number of agents working on the Russian threat.”

Boeing is a target, especially because some of the same technology used to produce Boeing commercial jetliners also goes into its military work, such as submarine hunters and aerial refueling tankers.

“As Boeing is transforming its technological way of producing airplanes with more automation, more robotics, so, I think, if Russia is after anything, it would be those sorts of things they would be after,” said veteran Boeing analyst Scott Hamilton, of the Leeham Company.

The Trump administration has been criticized for a lack of willingness to confront Russia over issues such as interference in U.S. elections.

“There's a lot of problems with Russia and so I'm perfectly OK with expelling diplomats,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee.