Published: Wed, March 28, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Mattis: Expulsion of Russian Diplomats - Statement to Those Doubting NATO Unity

Mattis: Expulsion of Russian Diplomats - Statement to Those Doubting NATO Unity

The US-led military alliance expelled seven Russian staff and denied accreditation to three more, bringing the total number of suspected Russian spies expelled to nearly 150, including the 23 initially dispatched by Britain.

The Russian foreign ministry said: "This provocative gesture of notorious solidarity with London, made by countries that preferred to follow in London's footsteps without bothering to look into other circumstances of the incident, merely continues the policy of escalating the confrontation".

Nato's intervention came as it was revealed that 26 countries have now joined the United Kingdom in removing Russian envoys as part of joint action against the Kremlin.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Washington of applying "colossal" pressure on allies to expel its diplomats, and vowed to respond to the move.

In recent days more than 115 Russian diplomats have also been expelled across the globe in a diplomatic backlash against the Kremlin following the attack earlier this month.

They mostly work now from Russian diplomatic premises in central Brussels.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were admitted to a hospital on March 4 after being found unconscious in the southern English city of Salisbury.

Russian Federation has denied any involvement.

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Australia, Canada, Ukraine and 18 European Union states followed with smaller-scale expulsions, most recently coming from Belgium which on Tuesday evening announced the dismissal of one Russian diplomat.

Dublin said it will expel one Russian diplomat, while Chisinau announced it had asked three diplomats to leave the country.

"Yesterday was a significant moment in our response to this reckless act of aggression, but there is still more to be done as we work with global partners on a long-term response to the challenge posed by Russian Federation", her spokesman reported May as saying. Turnbull slammed Russian Federation for "reckless and deliberate" conduct that he said harms global security and violates rules against the use of chemical weapons.

In his article for The Times, Johnson said the attack fell into pattern of "reckless behavior" by Putin, including the annexation of Crimea.

It is also closing the Russian consulate in Seattle.

Others expelling diplomats on Tuesday included Ireland.

The Russian embassy in Washington responded by asking its Twitter followers to vote on which United States consulate should be closed, listing those in Vladivostok, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg as options.

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