Skripal poisoning row: Russia expels diplomats from 23 countries

ANI | Updated: Mar 31, 2018 15:23 IST

Moscow [Russia], Mar 31 (ANI): Russia on Friday expelled 59 diplomats from 23 countries in the aftermath of poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal at his home in Salisbury in the United Kingdom earlier this month.

The move by Moscow is a tit-for-tat response to the similar actions taken by countries such as the United States over the poisoning of the former Russian military intelligence officer.

"The diplomats were handed notes of protest and told that a corresponding number of diplomats of their countries working in Russia were declared "personae non gratae" in response to their unjustified expulsion of Russian diplomatic personnel based on Britain's unproven accusations against Russia related to the so-called "Skripal case", the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

According to media reports, 13 diplomats from Ukraine were expelled, while four each from Canada, Poland, Germany and three each from Lithuania, Czech Republic and Moldova were sent back to their respective countries.

Two diplomats each from Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Denmark were also sent back.

Furthermore, one diplomat from Finland, Latvia, Sweden, Romania, Norway, Ireland, Croatia and Estonia were expelled by Russia.

Moscow has also ordered the expulsion of four French diplomats over the same.

The Russian foreign ministry added that taking into account the fact that Belgium, Hungary, Georgia and Montenegro decided to join the listed countries at the last moment, Russia "reserves the right to respond" to these countries.

Moscow on Thursday said that it will expel 60 US diplomats and close the American consulates in St. Petersburg.

According to the British government, Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were on March 4 exposed to a military-grade nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury. The father-daughter duo has since then been hospitalised in a critical condition.

Last week, the UK suspended 21 Russian diplomats back to Moscow claiming that Russia was "highly responsible" for the poisoning attack.

British Prime Minister Theresa May also called the incident "a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil" and accused Russia of carrying out the attack. (ANI)