Skripal poisoning: Australia, US, Canada, European nations expel Russian diplomats

27 March 2018

Skripal poisoning: Australia, US, Canada, European nations expel Russian diplomats

Australia, the US, Canada, and 16 European nations have expelled more than 100 Russian diplomats in total over Russia’s alleged role in the poisoning of a former double agent and his daughter in Britain earlier this month, in what is being called an act of “solidarity”.

Claiming there is an “unacceptably high” number of Russian intelligence officers in the US under the guise of diplomats, the Trump Administration announced 60 diplomats will be expelled, and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.

These are the countries taking action, and what they are doing:

  • The US will expel 60 diplomats and close a Russian consulate in Seattle.
  • Canada will expel four diplomats and deny applications to three.
  • Ukraine will expel 13 diplomats.
  • Germany, Poland and France will expel four diplomats each.
  • Lithuania and the Czech Republic will both expel three.
  • Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark and Albania will expel two each.
  • Sweden, Croatia, Romania, Finland, Latvia and Estonia will expel one each.

A joint statement issued by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the two diplomats being expelled are undeclared spies and would be “directed to depart Australia within seven days”.

“This decision reflects the shocking nature of the attack — the first offensive use of chemical weapons in Europe since World War II, involving a highly lethal substance in a populated area, endangering countless other members of the community,” the statement said.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury, England on March 4. It was later revealed by British authorities that the pair were exposed to a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s.

A little more than a week later, British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement to Parliament that it was “highly likely” the Russian Government was behind the attack.

Moscow vehemently denies its involvement in the attack on the Skripals and has repeatedly asked for samples of the substance to assist in the investigation.

The Kremlin is yet to respond to the development, but the Russian Government is expected to take similar measures.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the expulsions are “an unfriendly step that is not consistent with the goals and interests of establishing the underlying reasons and searching for the perpetrators of the incident” in Salisbury.

“Presenting unfounded charges against Russia in the absence of explanations of what happened and refusing to engage in meaningful interaction, the British authorities have de facto adopted a prejudiced, biased as well as hypocritical stance,” it said.

“We express our strong protest in the wake of the decision taken by a number of EU and NATO member countries to expel Russian diplomats.

“We consider this as an unfriendly step that is not consistent with the goals and interests of establishing the underlying reasons and searching for the perpetrators of the incident that occurred in the town of Salisbury on March 4. The provocative gesture of the so-called solidarity of these countries with London, which blindly followed the British authorities in the so-called “Skripal case” and which never got around to sort out the circumstances of the incident, is a continuation of the confrontational policy to escalate the situation.

“Presenting unfounded charges against Russia in the absence of explanations of what happened and refusing to engage in meaningful interaction, the British authorities have de facto adopted a prejudiced, biased as well as hypocritical stance.

“This is an attempt on the lives of Russian citizens on the territory of Great Britain. Despite our repeated requests for information addressed to London, Russia does not have any information in this regard. British allies don’t have any objective and exhaustive data and blindly follow the principle of Euro-Atlantic unity at the expense of common sense, the rules of civilised state-to-state dialogue and the principles of international law. It goes without saying that this unfriendly move by this group of countries will not go unnoticed, and we will respond to it.” — A statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.