Russia ramps up diplomatic expulsions, hauls in ambassadors

Author: ARAB NEWSFri, 2018-03-30 17:04ID: 1522418830047210700LONDON: The Russian foreign ministry ominously summoned the ambassadors of Albania, Denmark, Ireland and Spain as it looks to follow through on its promise to expel the same number of diplomats from each nation that has expelled Russian diplomats.
Russia said it had informed ambassadors of most of the countries that ordered the expulsion of Russian diplomats that an equal number of their diplomats have been declared persona non grata. A ministry statement Friday said the ambassadors were from 23 of the countries that are expelling Russians in connection with the poisoning in Britain of a former Russian double agent and his daughter.
Russia had on Thursday announced it was expelling 60 US diplomats and closing the consulate in St. Petersburg in retaliation to Washington’s moves.
Russia also ordered new cuts to the number of British envoys in the country, escalating a dispute with the West. The massive expulsion of diplomats on both sides has reached a scale unseen even at the height of the Cold War.
Two dozen countries, including the US and many EU nations, and NATO ordered out more than 150 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with Britain over the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter that London blamed on Russia.
Moscow has vehemently denied involvement in the March 4 nerve agent attack in the city of Salisbury and has busily set about a tit-for-tat series of expulsions.
Russia expelled four German diplomats, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, as the Kremlin responds in kind to expulsions of its own officials. “The news from Moscow comes as no surprise,” Maas said in a statement. “Even in the current climate we remain ready for dialogue with Russia and we will work on both European security and constructive future relations between our countries.”
Germany had earlier this week expelled four Russian diplomats.
Russia expelled one Irish diplomat, Ireland’s foreign ministry said on Friday, following Dublin’s decision to expel a Russian diplomat over a nerve agent attack in England that the British government has blamed on Russia.
“There is no justification for this expulsion. Our staff do not engage in activities which are incompatible with their diplomatic status,” a spokesman for the Irish foreign ministry said.
Main category: WorldTags: RussiaSergei SkripalHeiko MaasAdrian McDaidrelated_nodes: Russia to expel 60 US diplomats, close a US consulate: LavrovBritish police: Former Russian spy poisoned by nerve agent on door of home

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