Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

Moscow summons ambassadors over diplomat expulsions

Alexandr Sherbak  TASS Alexandr Sherbak TASS
| 02 April, 2018, 00:54

In all, more than 150 Russian diplomats have been ordered out of the US, EU members, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries and other nations in coordinated action against Moscow which they accuse of poisoning ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in a nerve agent attack in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

- HUNGARY, SWEDEN, CROATIA, ROMANIA, FINLAND, ESTONIA, IRELAND, NORWAY, MACEDONIA, MONTENEGRO, GEORGIA: One Russian diplomat expelled from each country. The U.K. has said the nerve agent was a so-called Novichok type of nerve agent, a type of nerve weapon developed secretly by the Soviet Union meant to be more potent and harder to detect.

In total, 171 people are expected to leave the country, with two Russian planes laid on, one of which will make a brief stopover in NY to collect 14 families.

"We had not taken the decision to expel the Russian diplomats lightly", the German Foreign Ministry said Friday in an emailed statement.

His 33-year-old daughter remained in the English hospital where she was being treated, and officials said Thursday that her condition had improved.

"Border Force and Customs officers have searched the aircraft that was conducting the Aeroflot flights 2582 / 2583, Moscow - London - Moscow".

"We have suggested that the USA authorities, which have encouraged and inflated a campaign of slander against our country, should come to their senses and cease thoughtless actions that destroy bilateral relations", the ministry said.

Russia has already retaliated against Britain for the UK's expulsion of Russian "intelligence agents" by ejecting 23 British diplomats over the attack on the Skripals.

The United States responded to it quickly, by holding a press conference, in which Washington, DC, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Russia's actions show it is "not interested in a dialogue".


"We invite the USA authorities who are encouraging a slanderous campaign against our country to come back to their senses and stop thoughtless actions to destroy bilateral relations", it said.

After the poisoning, Britain reacted by announcing it would expel 23 Russian diplomats, suspend high-level diplomatic contact with Moscow and not send royals to the 2018 soccer World Cup hosted by Russia.

Russian Federation said it would also retaliate against those other countries.

And Moscow has told the United Kingdom to take home more than 50 of its diplomats in the ongoing row over the nerve agent attack.

Meanwhile, Russia has demanded that Britain hand over a sample of the substance for analysis, and demanded access to Yulia Skripal - a Russian citizen.

As Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted, this was especially painful for Russians because it came right after the tragedy in Kemerevo while the entire country was still in mourning.

"She has responded well to treatment but continues to receive expert clinical care 24 hours a day", said Dr. Christine Blanshard, medical director at Salisbury District Hospital.

Frolov said that Moscow's strategy will likely focus on shouldering the blow from the current round of expulsions and pivot its attention to organizing a summit with President Donald Trump.

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