In concerted announcements today, the U.S. and several European nations announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in England earlier this month.
Russia has denied involvement in the chemical attack, but it's apparent from the statements from the governments listed below that few in European leadership are buying it. The U.K. already booted 23 Russians, and Moscow kicked out 23 Brits in response. In addition to the U.S. and Canada, 16 European nations agreed to show Russian diplomats the door. Read below to see who's participating in the diplomatic protest and what they're saying about it.
Although it doesn't appear President Donald Trump has tweeted out the news yet, the U.S. State Department released a statement saying it will expel 48 Russian officials "serving at Russia's bilateral mission to the United States" as well as 12 "intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission to the United Nations who have abused their privilege of residence in the United States."
"The United States calls on Russia to accept responsibility for its actions and to demonstrate to the world that it is capable of living up to its international commitments and responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council to uphold international peace and security," the statement said.
The United States calls on #Russia to accept responsibility for its actions and to demonstrate to the world that it is capable of living up to its int'l commitments and responsibilities as a member of the UNSC to uphold int'l peace and security. https://t.co/hqb2rNH15G pic.twitter.com/j4tLhsInG1— Department of State (@StateDept) March 26, 2018
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said on Twitter that his country had been preparing the ouster of more than a dozen Russian diplomats "for some time" but waited to move in coordination with other E.U. countries.
We have decided to expel 13 Russian diplomats from Ukraine. We have been preparing for this for some time, but have decided to act now in co-ordination with our friends and partners in the democratic transatlantic community of which we are part.— Pavlo Klimkin (@PavloKlimkin) March 26, 2018
The German Foreign Ministry tweeted that four Russians would be told to go since Russia has "shown no efforts to support investigations after the #Salisbury attack."
England's neighbor to the south, France, offered perhaps the most concise summation of the situation, when it's Foreign Ministry said, "the attack in Salisbury constitutes a serious threat to our collective security and international law, recalling that the European Council agreed that there is no plausible alternative explanation that the Russian Federation is responsible, and in solidarity with our British partners, we have today notified the Russian authorities of our decision to expel four Russian diplomats from French territory within one week."
The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that another four Russians would be declared persona-non-grata there. In a statement, the government condemned that Skripal attack and said that a "firm response of solidarity by the international community means that we will not agree to Russia violating international law."
America's northward neighbor joined the demonstration as well, announcing today that it is expelling four Russians who have either been identified as intelligence officers or otherwise "used their diplomatic status to undermine Canada’s security or interfere in our democracy."
“We are taking these measures in solidarity with the United Kingdom. These measures are not aimed at the Russian people, with whom Canadians have long and fruitful ties. Canada remains committed to dialogue and cooperation with Russia on issues where we face common challenges," the statement says. "The nerve agent attack represents a clear threat to the rules-based international order and to the rules that were established by the international community to ensure chemical weapons would never again destroy human lives."
Canada also said it would deny the diplomatic applications for three other Russians.
Czech Republic: 3
In a polite announcement, Czech Republic's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Martin Stropnický said his government asked the Russian embassy to "ensure that three diplomats and their family members" leave his country by April 1.
By the way, it's well known that intelligence officers operate the world over under diplomatic cover, meaning at least some of the "diplomats" being expelled today are actually suspected to be spies. But it's relatively rare for them to be described that way publicly by host nations. Like the U.S. and Canada today, Lithuania apparently didn't care, as its foreign minister said today it was kicking out three "intelligence officers," in addition to sanctioning 21 people and banning 23.
In solidarity with the UK over #SalisburyAttack Lithuania has undertaken decision to: expel 3 Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover; sanction additional 21 individuals under the Lithuanian Magnitsky Act; ban 23 more from the entrance to LT. @BorisJohnson— Linas Linkevicius (@LinkeviciusL) March 26, 2018
Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen minced no words with Denmark's announcement that two Russians would be leaving:
Russia has gone too far. An assassination attempt in a European city with a Russian nerve agent is completely unacceptable. The UK has our full support. Denmark will expel two Russian diplomats in our joint European response to the #SalisburyAttack. #dkpol— Lars Løkke Rasmussen (@larsloekke) March 26, 2018
Stef Blok, Foreign Minister for the Netherlands, made it brief and to the point:
In a short statement linked from its Twitter feed, the Albanian Foreign Ministry said it had alerted Russian officials that two of its officers in Albania were now persona-non-grata due to "activity is not compliant to their diplomatic status."
It doesn't appear on the Italian Foreign Ministry's Twitter feed, but a simple statement from the department echoed other countries in emphasizing Italy's solidarity with the U.K. and announcing that two Russian diplomats would be sent packing within one week.
The government of Finland was far more circumspect and dry in its announcement that one Russian diplomat would be expelled.
"The European Council started deliberations on the need for action by Member States that is as united as possible, and discussions continued over the weekend," the statement said. "The President of the Republic and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy determined that Finland will expel one official with diplomatic status who works in the Russian Embassy in Helsinki. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will notify the Russian Ambassador of the matter."
Announcing the expulsion of a single Russian diplomat, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said today that "the attempted murder in Salisbury is bigger than a bilateral issue between the United Kingdom and Russia. It another challenge to international protocol from the Russian side, so we must therefore act," according to Swiss newspaper TheLocal.
In what it called "solidarity" with the U.K., Romania agreed to kick out a single Russian diplomat (and tagged Britain's Foreign Secretary and Foreign Ministry in the Twitter announcement just to be sure they saw it.)
Code and Dagger does not currently have a Croatian speaker on staff, but according to Google Translate, the below tweet posted on the Croatian government's official account and attributed to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković says that one Russian diplomat has been declared persona-non-grata. That last phrase was helpfully still in Latin.
Latvia's Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, said on Twitter that his country was expelling a Russian diplomat and, somewhat curiously, "blacklisting a Russian citizen."
Rinkevics added, "Coordinated action by the European Union memberstates and United Sates to regarding #SalisburyAttack shows strong transatlantic cooperation to fight hybrid-warfare and to strengthen our common resilience."
One Russian diplomat from Estonia will be making the short trip across the border back to the Motherland, as Estonia's Foreign Ministry announced the expulsion again in "solidarity" with the U.K.
Estonia decided to expel Russian diplomat for violation of Vienna convention & in solidarity with UK over #SalisburyAttack. We continue to urge Russia to cooperate with the UK & international community to identify the individuals responsible for this crime https://t.co/Y9VJKfTq5Q— Estonian MFA (@MFAestonia) March 26, 2018
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