Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Australia to expel 2 Russian diplomats over spy nerve attack

Police officers stand by police tape as inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrive to begin work at the scene of the nerve agent attack on former Russian agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury US expels 60 Russians, closes consulate
Andrew Cummings | 27 March, 2018, 17:14

Other EU states, who have a history of strong ties with Moscow, have also said they do not intend to expel Russian diplomats despite having signed up to an EU statement blaming Russia for a chemical weapon attack in England earlier this month.

It is the largest coordinated diplomatic blow to Russian intelligence networks in the west since the Cold War.

The British government has asserted that the Russian government is responsible for the attack on Sergei V. Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, and that President Vladimir Putin may have been personally culpable.

While Shah said that the "brazen" attack on British soil forced the U.S. to take action, he also issued repeated assurances that Trump "still wants to work with Russian Federation". This represents the largest U.S. expulsion of Russian or Soviet agents ever and comes after Trump's predecessor Barack Obama expelled 35 in late 2016 over alleged election meddling.

The countries have agreed to take action in solidarity with Britain.

Ukraine, a non-EU country, joined the 14 states and expelled 13 Russian diplomats.

"It's a message that's being embraced by our European allies because they've been anxious that with some of the things they've heard or haven't heard from this President about Russian President Vladimir Putin means he might be soft on Moscow", said CNN military analyst John Kirby.

Politico: Trump expels Russian agents as gap between words and actions widens - "The Trump administration is expelling 60 Russian diplomatic officials it says are spies to punish a nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom that has been widely attributed to Moscow".

Speaking at the start of a debate on national security and Russian Federation, she added: "Sergei and Yulia Skripal remain critically ill in hospital".

Monday's wave of expulsions came after European Union leaders said last week that evidence presented by May of Russian involvement in the attack was a solid basis for further action.

"Together we have sent a message that we will not tolerate Russia's continued attempts to flout worldwide law and undermine our values", she said.

The individuals concerned and their families have been given a week to leave the United States, according to the official.

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Despite Trump's failure to comment, there is little doubt that the move is the toughest his administration has taken to date against Russian Federation. All three Baltic states said they would kick diplomats out.

United States lawmakers largely welcomed Trump's move on Monday.

On Twitter, the Russian Embassy in Washington DC asked followers to vote on which United States consulate should be closed, listing Vladivostok, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg as options.

There are 100 Russian intelligence officials based in the US.

Following Russian-spy- poisoning controversy Iceland on Monday announced that its leaders will not attend the FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer.

The US reserves the right to expel more, the official added. He said in a statement Tuesday that the two diplomats targeted are undeclared intelligence officers and have been given seven days to leave Australia.

Australia's move comes a day after US President Donald Trump's administration expelled 60 Russian diplomats accusing them of being "intelligence agents" and also shut down the consulate in Seattle. Sixty Russians were expelled from the United States.

Skripal's poisoning, which Britain said employed the Soviet-era military-grade nerve agent Novichok, is the first known offensive use of a nerve toxin in Europe since World War Two. "To do nothing would only encourage further efforts to undermine the global rules-based order upon which our security and prosperity rely", Mr Turnbull said. In the Czech Republic, where Russian officials have claimed the poison may have originated, Prime Minister Andrej Babis dismissed that allegation as "an utter lie".

Russia's Investigative Committee said the roof collapsed in two theatres of the cinema in the blaze, which erupted at around 4 PM local time yesterday.

"The response will be symmetrical".

Further, Russia's Foreign Ministry issued a "determined protest" to the expulsions and said it would respond to the "unfriendly act".

The collective expulsions from the USA and 14 EU member states is a remarkable show of solidarity with Britain, even more so because it comes at a time when UK-EU relations are strained due to the Brexit negotiations. Besides the embassy in Moscow, the United States has three consulate generals in Russian Federation.

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