NATO kicks out 7 Russian diplomats

NATO expels 7 staffers at Russian Mission to NATO and denies accreditation for 3 others over Skripal poisoning in Britain
ANKARA: NATO announced on Tuesday that it had expelled seven Russian staffers from Russia’s Mission to the alliance in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.
“I have withdrawn the accreditation of seven staff at Russia’s Mission to NATO and I will deny the accreditation request for three others,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference at NATO headquarters in Belgium.
The statement comes after the U.S., Canada, Australia, and many EU member states expelled dozens of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England earlier this month.
“Intensive consultations have taken place among allies, including here at NATO and in capitals,” Stoltenberg said.
“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.”
NATO also cut the maximum size of Russia’s Mission by 10 people, reducing it to 20, he said.
The alliance thus sent a clear message to Russia that there are “costs and consequences for its unacceptable and dangerous pattern of behavior,” he said.
“And it follows Russia’s lack of constructive response to what happened in Salisbury,” he added.
Stoltenberg stressed, however, that Tuesday’s decision did not change the alliance’s overall policy towards Russia.
“NATO remains committed to our dual-track approach of strong defense and openness to dialogue, including by working to prepare the next meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.”–AA

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