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US, Canada and European Union nations expel over 100 Russian diplomats

Mar 27, 2018 10:38 IST
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Standing in solidarity with the United Kingdom, more than 21 nations led by the United States announced the expulsion of over 100 Russian diplomats on March 26, 2018. Britain has already expelled 23 Russian diplomats.

The move is reported to be the largest collective western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of Cold War. It follows allegations against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime for having a hand in the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom.

The countries that took the extreme step include the United States, Canada, Australia, Albania, Ukraine, Norway and several European Union nations like France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Denmark, Hungary, Spain, Croatia, Poland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Romania, Netherlands, Finland and Sweden.

Key Highlights

• The United States expelled 60 Russian diplomats, describing them as intelligence officers and ordered the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.

• Many of these expelled diplomats are based at Russia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

• The US has given all the Russian diplomats, connected to the country's intelligence agencies, and their families seven days' time to leave the country.

• Further, Ukraine has announced the expulsion of 13 Russian diplomats, Poland, France, Germany and Canada expelled 4 each and the Czech Republic and Lithuania expelled 3 diplomats each.

• Among the remaining nations, Spain, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands and Albania announced the expulsion of 2 diplomats each while the rest - Estonia, Norway, Latvia, Sweden, Hungary, Croatia, Finland and Romania expelled one each.

• Iceland also announced that it is suspending high-level dialogue with Russian authorities, and its leaders will not attend the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which starts in Russia in June.

 

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Significance

The collective expulsions from the US and EU member states is a significant diplomatic victory for UK Prime Minister Theresa May, especially since it comes at a time when UK-EU relations are strained due to the Brexit negotiations.

It also marks a significant toughening of the Trump administration's stance towards Russia.

The issue is, however, building into the most serious diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West since Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Background

• Sergei Skirpal, a 66-year-old former Russian spy and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a public bench in a shopping centre on March 4. They currently remain critically ill in hospital.

• The UK has alleged that Russia used a military-grade nerve agent to attempt to murder a British citizen and his daughter in Salisbury.

• The United States called the attack an outrageous violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and breach of international law.

• Russia has denied being behind the attack on Sergei Skirpal and his daughter.

 

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