North Atlantic Treaty Organisation cuts Russian Federation diplomatic mission amidst spy poisoning row

Mar 28, 2018, 00:57
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation cuts Russian Federation diplomatic mission amidst spy poisoning row

"This sends a clear message to Russian Federation that there are costs and consequences for its unacceptable and unsafe pattern of behaviour", the former Norwegian prime minister added.

Ireland says it is expelling a Russian diplomat, joining more than 20 other nations in punishing Moscow for the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal.

London has said the attack was carried out using a Soviet-era Cold War nerve agent from a family called Novichok.

President of the European Council Donald Tusk said in a news conference on Monday that the EU generally agreed with the United Kingdom government's assessment that "it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible and that there is no plausible alternative explanation".

Former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned on 4 March.

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Moscow has denied any involvement in the incident.

"We'll respond, have no doubt!"

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday called the US decision, as well as similar moves by other Western governments this month, "a colossal blackmail campaign".

"So political reforms in Russian Federation as a counterpart for economic cooperation which we have to offer", he said.

Trump on Tuesday discussed the spy attack with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, the White House said, and expressed "support for the West's strong response".

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On Monday, European Council President Donald Tusk announced in Varna, Bulgaria, that 14 European Union (EU) member states had chose to expel Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.

"Relations between Russian Federation and the West are entering a period of full Cold War", foreign policy analyst Fyodor Lukyanov wrote in the Vedomosti daily.

They remain in critical condition after exposure to a nerve agent, which, according to the British authorities, could have originated from Russian Federation.

The major success comes after a major 10 day diplomatic offensive to lobby allies by the PM, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and National Security Advisor Sir Mark Sedwill.

In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters that Russian Federation "has the potential to be a partner" with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members but had "chosen to seek a different relationship".

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The Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that Russia "strongly protests" diplomats expulsion by the United States and 14 European countries over the ex-spy case, vowing to retaliate.

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