Canada expels Russian diplomats over UK nerve attack
Canada said on Monday (March 26) it would expel four Russian diplomats, joining the United States and governments across Europe in punishing the Kremlin for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain that they have blamed on Moscow.
The four diplomats are based at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ottawa or the Russian consulate in Montreal, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.
Canada is also rejecting three applications by Russia for additional diplomatic staff, Freeland said.
The United States said on Monday it would expel 60 Russian diplomats.
It was the strongest action that U.S. President Donald Trump had taken against Russia since coming to office. He has been criticized by Democrats and members of his own Republican Party for failing to be tough enough on Russia over allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. electoral system including the 2016 presidential campaign.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, welcoming the show of solidarity, said 18 countries had announced plans to expel Russian officials. Those included 14 European Union countries, as well as Ukraine, Canada and Albania. In total, Monday’s announcements affected more than 100 Russian diplomats – the biggest Western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the actions a “provocative gesture”. The Kremlin spokesman said the West’s response was a “mistake” and that Russian President Vladimir Putin would make a final decision about Russia’s response.
Moscow has denied being behind the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the southern English city of Salisbury on March 4. Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a public bench in a shopping centre, and remain critically ill in hospital.