Expelling Russians, Europe and North America Show Unity with U.K.
The expulsion of dozens of diplomats from Europe, and dozens more across the Atlantic, came weeks after the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.LONDON — European nations united in a rare coordinated rebuke of Russia on Monday, joining the United States and Canada in expelling scores of Russian diplomats. The expulsions were a show of solidarity with their ally Britain, which alleged that the Kremlin was behind the use of a nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter.
Russian diplomats expelled from the United States arrived in Moscow on Sunday, with post-Cold War tensions soaring in the wake of a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain.
A deepening crisis in ties between Russia and the West over the past weeks has seen the biggest wave of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions in recent memory.
Another salvo in the spat was fired on Saturday, when Russia warned its nationals to think twice before travelling to Britain, where it said they could be singled out for harassment.
Russian envoy says relations with US in crisis, retaliation likely
The Russian ambassador to the United Nations said Monday that relations between Moscow and Washington had deteriorated to the point of crisis after the U.S. and other western nations expelled dozens of Russia diplomats they accused of being spies. Vassily Nebenzia spoke briefly to reporters outside a diplomatic luncheon in New York hours after President Trump ordered 60 Russian diplomats out of the U.S. and closed down the Russian consulate in Seattle. When one reporter asked whether U.S.-Russia relations were in crisis, Nebenzia said: "It’s been [in crisis for] some time already.
By expelling 60 Russian diplomats, the US joined a score of Britain's allies in responding to the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.
Britain has said it is "highly likely" that Russia was responsible for the attack using the Soviet-designed Novichok nerve agent, while Moscow calls the allegations unsubstantiated anti-Russian propoganda.
Russia Will Expel 150 Diplomats, as Tensions With West Reach Fever Pitch
The move was in retaliation for the expulsion of diplomats by Britain, the United States and their allies. The U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg will be closed.LONDON — Intensifying Russia’s clash with Europe and the United States, the Kremlin on Thursday announced that it would expel 150 Western diplomats, and close the United States Consulate in St. Petersburg.
Russian television showed passengers disembarking from a government plane while several buses waited to pick them up.
The US alleged the 60 diplomats were "spies" and sent them home from posts around the country and at the Russian mission to the United Nations, as well as closing Russia's consulate in Seattle.
Moscow responded by sending home 60 US diplomats and closing Washington's consulate in Saint Petersburg on Saturday.
Washington has since said Russia is free to apply to accredit more diplomats to replace those expelled.
- 'A lot of trust has been lost' -
More than 150 Russian diplomats have now been ordered out of the US, EU members, NATO countries and other nations.
Four of those diplomats were sent home from Germany, whose foreign minister said Sunday that his country remained open to dialogue and hoped eventually to "rebuild trust" with Moscow.
While admitting Russia's behaviour had "caused a lot of trust to be lost", Heiko Maas said "we need Russia as a partner".
The U.S. and Russia Are Caught in a Downward Spiral
Russia ordered 60 U.S. diplomats to leave the country by April 5, and said the American consulate in St. Petersburg must close by March 31. This action—the expulsion of 60 diplomats and the closing of a consulate—is a precise parallel to a move announced this week by the Trump administration, which was responding to Moscow’s alleged role in the attempted assassination by nerve agent of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter, Yulia, in the U.K.The U.S. action was coordinated with its allies, who also expelled a varying number of Russians. The U.K.
The US embassy in Moscow also took a more conciliatory tone, saying on Twitter that "the consulate is closed but our work to improve Russian-US ties is continuing".
US President Donald Trump has often appeared reluctant to criticise Russian leader Vladimir Putin and has said the two could meet for a summit in the near future.
However the furious diplomatic war between Russia and Britain showed no sign of abating as Moscow's embassy in London urged Russians to think carefully before travelling to the UK or sending children to summer school there.
The embassy warned that British authorities including police could single out Russians for additional checks, citing "the anti-Russian policies and an escalation of the British side's threatening rhetoric".
- 'Anti-Russian campaign' -
The Russian embassy even urged fans of football team CSKA Moscow flying to London for Thursday's Europa match with Arsenal to exercise "extra vigilance" because of Britain's "anti-Russian campaign".
Britain has acknowledged that border officials searched an incoming Aeroflot flight from Moscow on Friday in what Russia blasted as an act of "blatant provocation".
Russia complains about alleged search of airplane in London
The Russian Embassy in Britain has complained about the alleged search of a Russian airliner that landed at London's Heathrow Airport. The embassy said British Border Forces and Customs officers searched an Aeroflot flight from Moscow Friday in violation of international rules. The embassy said British Border Forces and Customs officers searched an Aeroflot flight from Moscow Friday in violation of international rules.
But Britain said it conducts routine checks on aircraft to protect the UK from organised crime and people attempting to bring harmful substances into the country.
Moscow summoned British ambassador Laurie Bristow on Friday, giving London a month to cut the number of diplomatic staff in Russia to the same number Russia has in Britain.
"Russia suggested parity. The British side has more than 50 more people," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told AFP.
The measure came after Russia expelled 23 British diplomats, closed a British consulate in Saint Petersburg and halted the activities of the British Council educational and cultural organisation last month.
Bristow was summoned by Moscow along with the heads of missions from 23 other countries -- most of them EU member states -- who were told that some of their diplomats had to leave.
One of those countries was Australia, which on Sunday warned its citizens in Russia of the risk of "anti-Western sentiment or harassment".
However the travel advisory said the government was not aware of "any increased difficulties for Australians travelling in Russia at this time".
Russia also expelled diplomats from countries including France, Canada, Poland, Australia, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Finland, Lithuania and Norway.
Expelled U.S. diplomats have left Russia: State Dept .
<p>The 60 U.S. envoys who were expelled by Russia amid a diplomatic crisis triggered by the poisoning of a former spy have left the country, the State Department said.</p>"This morning 60 American diplomats left Russia in compliance with the Russian government's unwarranted decision to declare them persona non grata," a U.S. spokeswoman said.