North Atlantic Treaty Organisation expels seven Russian diplomats over spy-poisoning

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on March 27 that the alliance will expel seven staff from the Russian mission in response to the poisoning.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that Russia ever even manufactured the poison that was used in the attack on Skripal, a claim since disputed by several former Soviet scientists.

A number of countries including the United States said the Russian diplomats they were throwing out were actually undeclared spies.

Before NATO, a total of 24 countries chose to expel Russian diplomats in solidarity with Britain, following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in that country.

"I have withdrawn the accreditation of seven staff at Russia's Mission to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and I will deny the accreditation request for three others", Stoltenberg said in a press conference at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Belgium.

The White House said that President Donald Trump spoke Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the leaders "expressed support" for the expulsions and "praised" the announcement by others who have followed suit.

"It appears Moscow misjudged the strong global condemnation to its attempt to murder a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter", wrote the Soufan Group security firm Tuesday.

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In coordinated announcements of expulsions on Monday, fourteen European Union states including Germany, France, the Netharlands, Italy and Poland are expelling Russian diplomats in a response to the nerve agent attack on a former spy in the English city of Salisbury. Moscow has fiercely denied the charge and has pointed the finger at British intelligence.

All in all, on Monday, about 100 Russian diplomats were expelled from 16 European countries, as well as US, Canada and Australia.

Dublin said it will expel one Russian diplomat, while Chisinau announced it had asked three diplomats to leave the country.

It responded to Britain's expulsions with its own, and the closure of the British Council cultural organisation - and on Tuesday promised it would hit back against the coordinated moves.

"No one wants to put up with such loutish behavior and we won't", Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on the sidelines of a conference in Uzbekistan.

Speaking on a trip to Uzbekistan, Lavrov said the USA has applied "colossal pressure, colossal blackmail, which have become Washington's main instrument on the global arena".

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