Skripal Poisoning Incident: Russia Expels 59 Diplomats From 23 Countries

Mass Expulsion of Russian Diplomats, Prelude for “Worse to Come”?

Two dozen countries including the United States and many European Union states, as well as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, have announced they are expelling a total of more than 150 Russian diplomats, in a show of solidarity with Britain over the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in England.

This is true from the expulsion of 60 American diplomats, and closure of an American consulate, after the U.S. expelled 60 Russians and closed one of their consulates.

According to media reports, 13 diplomats from Ukraine were expelled, while four each from Canada, Poland, Germany and three each from Lithuania, Czech Republic and Moldova were sent back to their respective countries.

Moscow has rejected United Kingdom accusations that it is behind the nerve agent attack on an ex-spy and his daughter in the UK.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Russia's expulsion of United States diplomats marks a "further deterioration" in relations between the two countries, but like Nauert defended similar moves by Washington and its allies.

U.S. media showed footage of a Russian government plane on the tarmac at Washington's Dulles airport, apparently to begin ferrying the expelled Russians home.

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US consulate staff in St. Petersburg pack up and prepare to leave after Russian Federation expels over 60 USA diplomats and asks for the closure of the consulate.

His 33-year-old daughter was also in a critical condition though the English hospital where she was being treated said on Thursday that her condition had improved.

In London, the Russian Embassy on Friday accused British authorities of "another blatant provocation", claiming they had searched an Aeroflot plane without proper permissions.

"The news from Moscow comes as no surprise", Maas said in a statement.

"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.

Emerging from the Russian Foreign Ministry building, German ambassador Rudiger von Fritsch said Russia had questions to answer about the poisoning of Skripal, but that Berlin remained open to dialogue with Moscow.

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The Russian officers, whom Moscow denies are spies, have until April 2 to leave, although U.S. media reported that Russian planes were already at Dulles airport on Friday to begin their transport.

A spokeswoman for the British Foreign Office commented on the Russian move saying, "it's regrettable but in light of Russia's previous behaviour, we anticipated a response".

"One after another, black ambassadorial cars have been pulling up herr outside the Russian foreign ministry and the ambassadors have been walking in to essentially get a dressing-down from the foreign ministry staff and be told how many of their personnel has to be packing their bags to leave", he said. "She has responded well to treatment but continues to receive expert clinical care 24 hours a day", Dr. Christine Blanshard, medical director for Salisbury District Hospital, said in a statement.

Britain has blamed Russia for the poisoning, and has been backed up by dozens of Western countries which have ordered Russian diplomats to leave.

President Donald Trump drew bipartisan praise in Washington this week for its expulsions, days after he was criticized for congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election in a phone call.

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