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17 Western Nations Expel Russian Diplomats Over UK Spy Attack

Sixteen Western states announced their decision on Monday to expel Russian diplomats in a coordinated response to the nerve agent attack in the UK.

Seventeen Western states announced their decision on Monday to expel Russian diplomats in a coordinated response to the nerve agent attack on a former spy in the English city of Salisbury.

“As a direct follow-up to last week’s European Council decision to react to Russia within a common framework, already today 14 member states have decided to expel Russian diplomats,” E.U. President Donald Tusk told a news conference in Varna, Bulgaria.

“Additional measures including further expulsions are not to be excluded in the coming days and weeks,” he added.

Germany, France and Poland have so far said they will each expel four Russian diplomats, the Czech Republic and Lithuania three, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands two, and Latvia one.

The move came after British Prime Minister Theresa May addressed fellow European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels to urge them to support Britain’s assessment that Russia was to blame.

The 28 E.U. states issued a statement saying they agreed it was highly likely Russia was responsible for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4, and ordered the recall of the bloc’s ambassador to Moscow.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced the expulsion of 13 diplomats from Russia.

“In response to a cynical chemical attack in Salisbury, Ukraine, in the spirit of solidarity with our British partners and transatlantic allies and in coordination with EU countries, decided to expel 13 Russian diplomats from the few that remain (in Kiev),” Mr. Poroshenko wrote on his Facebook page.

He said Ukraine’s diplomatic relations with Russia had been “de facto frozen” since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and began to support separatists in country’s east.

“The next step is to increase the price that Moscow has to pay for its international crimes, including the strengthening of personal, financial and economic sanctions,” Mr. Poroshenko added.

In North America, the United States announced it was expelling 60 diplomats and closing the Russian consulate in Seattle, while Canada said it would expel four.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the move, part of globally coordinated retaliation against Moscow, was taken “in response to Russia’s use of a military-grade chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom.”

Officials said that 48 “known intelligence officers” posted to the United States and 12 more at the Russian mission to the United Nations now have seven days to leave the country.

Russia has vowed to react to “provocative” expulsions of diplomats.

“We express a decisive protest over the decision taken by a number of EU and NATO countries to expel Russian diplomats,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Moscow vowed that this “unfriendly step by this group of countries will not pass without trace and we will respond to it.”

Russia said the move went against the interests of identifying those guilty for the attack on Mr. Skripal and his daughter. It accused the countries who took part in expulsions of “pandering to the British authorities” and “not bothering to look into the circumstances of what happened,” saying this was part of a confrontational dynamic aimed at “escalating the situation.”

Moscow said the British authorities have issued “groundless accusations” against Russia and taken “a prejudiced, biased and hypocritical position.”

It complained that it had received no information on the “attempted assassination of Russian citizens.”

1 Comment
  1. […] far, more than 25 Western nations have announced they will expel Russians who are believed to be carrying out espionage in their countries under diplomatic cover. The […]

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