NATO Expels Seven Russian Diplomats and Denies Accreditation to Three More
Nato has expelled seven Russian diplomats over the Salisbury nerve agent attack, the organisation’s secretary general has announced.
Accreditation requests for three other Moscow officials have also been rejected to “send a clear message to Russia”, said Jens Stoltenberg, in the latest wave of global condemnation over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
He said the move was intended the show Vladimir Putin’s regime “that there are costs and consequences for its unacceptable and dangerous pattern of behaviour”.
It also follows “Russia’s lack of constructive response to what happened in Salisbury”, Mr Stoltenberg added.
The decision reduces the size of the Russian mission on the North Atlantic Council, Nato’s main decision-making body, from a maximum size of 30 to 20.
It follows the "unprecedented" expulsions of more than 140 Russian diplomats from dozens of countries around in the world in a co-ordinated response to the 4 March assassination attempt that the British government says was planned by the Kremlin.
Speaking in Brussels, Mr Stoltenberg said: “The attack in Salisbury was the first use of a nerve agent on Nato territory.
On 14 March, Nato Allies made clear their deep concern, and condemnation of this reckless breach of international norms.
“Since then, intensive consultations have taken place among Allies, including here at Nato and in capitals.
Those consultations have resulted so far in the expulsion of over 140 Russian officials by over 25 Nato Allies and partners.
“This is a broad, strong and coordinated international response. And as part of that response, Nato is unified in taking further steps.
“I have today withdrawn the accreditation of seven staff at the Russian Mission to Nato . I will also deny the pending accreditation request for three others.”
He added: “This sends a clear message to Russia that there are costs and consequences for its unacceptable and dangerous pattern of behaviour.
And it follows Russia’s lack of constructive response to what happened in Salisbury.
“Our actions reflect the serious security concerns expressed by all Allies, and are part of the coordinated international effort to respond to Russia’s behaviour.”
Although Mr Stoltenberg said the expulsions had been "triggered by the Salisbury attack", he added: "It is part of broader response by Nato allies to a pattern of unacceptable and dangerous behaviour by Russia.
"We have seen the illegal annexation of Crimea, we have seen the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine, we have seen cyber attacks, we have seen hybrid tactics, we have seen Russia investing heavily in modern military equipment and the willingness to use military force against neighbours."
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