Ex-Russian spy poisoning row: Expulsions warning to Russia not to flout international law, says UK; Kremlin says will likely respond quid pro quo

Several EU countries and US have expelled Russian diplomats in a deepening crisis over the nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy in England.

Published: 26th March 2018 06:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th March 2018 09:26 PM   |  A+A-

A taxi in front of the Russian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, March 26, 2018. (AP)

By Online Desk

Several European Union countries, along with US, are following Britain in expelling Russian diplomats in a deepening crisis over the nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy in England on Monday. 

The diplomatic fallout came after British Prime Minister Theresa May addressed fellow EU leaders at a summit in Brussels to urge them to support Britain's assessment that Russia was to blame. 

Here are the UPDATES:

  • The expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats from 18 countries after the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain this month are a message against Russian "attempts to flout international law", British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday.

    "I have found great solidarity from our friends and partners in the EU, NATO, America and beyond... Together, we have sent a message that we will not tolerate Russia's continue attempts to flout international law and undermine our values," she told parliament. (AFP)

  • The Kremlin says Russia will likely respond quid pro quo to the expulsions of Russian diplomats by the United States and the European Union nations over the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain.

ALSO READ: Diplomats ousted: US, Europe punish Russia over spy case

  • President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies that Moscow will proceed from the "principle of reciprocity" while mulling over its response to the decisions made by Washington and EU countries.

    Peskov said that the Foreign Ministry will analyze the situation and present a proposal to Putin, who will make the ultimate decision on how to respond.

    Britain has accused Russia of involvement in the March 4 poisoning of former Russian spy Serge Skripal and his daughter who have remained in critical condition, accusations that Moscow has fiercely denied.

  • Poland was the first to summon Russia's ambassador for talks, and its foreign ministry is among several other European Union planning news conferences later Monday after EU chief Donald Tusk predicted that member states would introduce measures against Moscow over its suspected role in the spy poisoning case.

  • The United States kicked out 60 Russian diplomats and ordering Russia's consulate in Seattle to close in response to the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain. Senior Trump administration officials say the expelled Russians include 12 spies who the U.S. believes are working under diplomatic cover at Russia's mission to the United Nations. The US president ordered the closure of the Seattle consulate as it is a counter-intelligence concern because of its proximity to a U.S. Navy base. The expelled Russians will have seven days to leave the U.S.

ALSO READ: Russia says UK forcing 'allies to take confrontational steps' over spy poisoning

  • Germany and Poland both say they have asked four Russian diplomats to leave, while in Lithuania, three Russian diplomats were ordered to leave. The German foreign ministry said in a statement that the move was also a response to the recent cyber attacks against German  government networks, "which according to information so far is highly likely to be attributable to Russian sources."

  • Foreign ministries in Denmark, Estonia, and other EU countries are expected to announce measures to reporters.

ALSO READ: Russia says spy poison claim against Sweden 'just a guess'

  • Lithuania's foreign minister has strongly condemned the nerve agent attack."We handed a note to the ambassador that three Russian embassy officials are declared persona non grata for activities incompatible with their diplomatic status," Linas Linkevicius told AFP. 

  • Romania's Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu also expressed solidarity with Britain and said authorities would announce measures later.

  • Among the 14 EU countries, France will also expel four Russian diplomats over spy case, as announced by its ministry. While Ukraine expels 13, Denmark to expel two Russian diplomats.

  • Canada on Monday ordered the expulsion of four Russian diplomats and denied credentials for three others over the poisoning of a former spy in Britain, said a statement. "We are taking these measures in solidarity with the United Kingdom," Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said.

  • Denmark, the only Nordic country to be both a member of NATO and the EU, and the Netherlands said they were each expelling two diplomats, while Finland -- a Russian grand duchy until 1917 -- said it was expelling one.

  • Britain hailed the "extraordinary international response" to the row. "Today's extraordinary international response by our allies stands in history as the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers ever and will help defend our shared security," Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson wrote in a tweet.

  • The Russian foreign ministry on Monday vowed to retaliate against the expulsions of its diplomats. "We express a decisive protest over the decision taken by a number of EU and NATO countries to expel Russian diplomats," the ministry said in a statement, calling the moves a "provocative gesture" and promising that this "unfriendly step... will not pass without trace and we will respond to it.

(with inputs from AFP, Associated Press)


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