Mattis: Expulsion of Russian Diplomats - Statement to Those Doubting NATO Unity

Mar 28, 2018, 00:34

A spokesperson for Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said it was "very likely" Russian Federation was responsible for the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

Earlier in the day, Mattis stated that the decision of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to withdraw accreditation of seven members of the Russian mission was a statement to those who doubted the unity of the alliance.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that Russia "strongly protests" diplomats expulsion by the United States and 14 European countries over the ex-spy case, vowing to retaliate.

The coordinated action among Western allies is seen as a huge diplomatic coup for May whose country is preparing to exit the European Union bloc and may have had doubts about how much support she could count on.

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"This is the result of colossal pressure, colossal blackmail which is the main instrument of Washington on the worldwide arena", Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were admitted to a hospital on March 4 after being found unconscious in the southern English city of Salisbury. Moscow has fiercely denied the charge and has pointed the finger at British intelligence.

Trump discussed Russian Federation in separate phone calls on Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, hinted the Kremlin would respond with tit-for-tat expulsions, saying Russian Federation would proceed from the "principle of reciprocity".

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But Western officials made it clear in announcing the expulsions that they share Britain's assessment that only the Kremlin could have been responsible. Turnbull slammed Russian Federation for "reckless and deliberate" conduct that he said harms global security and violates rules against the use of chemical weapons.

The major success comes after a major 10 day diplomatic offensive to lobby allies by the PM, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and National Security Advisor Sir Mark Sedwill.

"There was a time when this tactic of sowing doubt might have been effective, but no one is fooled any more". Stoltenberg's statement followed the earlierdismissal of more than 140 Russian diplomats from 24 different countries.

The Russian embassy in Washington responded by asking its Twitter followers to vote on which USA consulate should be closed, listing those in Vladivostok, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg as options.

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