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14 EU states expelled Russian diplomats over UK spy attack

14 EU states expelled Russian diplomats over UK spy attack following the diplomatic fallout over the nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy in Britain. (AFP)

14 EU states expelled Russian diplomats over UK spy attack following the diplomatic fallout over the nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy in Britain.

Poland, Germany and Lithuania are among the European countries announcing they are expelling Russian diplomats over the poisoning of Russian ex-spy in Britain.

Germany and Poland both say they have asked four Russian diplomats to leave, while in Lithuania, three Russian diplomats were ordered to leave.

The German foreign ministry said in a statement that the move was part of a joint European response to the Skripal case.

It said "the expulsion of four diplomats is a strong signal of solidarity with Great Britain and signals the resolve of the Germany government not to leave attacks against our closest partners and allies unanswered."

The ministry added that the move was also a response to the recent cyberattacks against German government networks, "which according to information so far is highly likely to be attributable to Russian sources."

The United States is kicking out 60 Russian diplomats and ordering Russia's consulate in Seattle to close in response to the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain.

Senior Trump administration officials say the expelled Russians include 12 spies who the US believes are working under diplomatic cover at Russia's mission to the United Nations. They say the Seattle consulate is a counter-intelligence concern because of its proximity to a US Navy base.

The officials say the actions are being taken to send a message about the "unacceptably high" number of Russian spies in the US and to respond to the attack in the UK The officials weren't authorized to be identified by name and requested anonymity.

The expelled Russians will have seven days to leave the US.

Lithuania's foreign minister has strongly condemned the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain, saying his country is poised to expel Russian diplomats in response.

Linas Linkevicius said Monday "We have to do the utmost to show ... solidarity with our allies," and to come up with "coordinated measures" as well as national measures.

He said the attack was the first time after World War II that military chemical weapons were used on NATO, EU territory against civilians, adding these "methods... are not acceptable."

Asked whether the Baltic country would expel Russian diplomats, he said: "Lithuania will announce today national measures, including what you mentioned but not only that."

Romania's Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu also expressed solidarity with Britain and said authorities would announce measures later.

Poland has summoned Russia's ambassador for talks, and its foreign ministry is among several in Europe planning news conferences later Monday after EU chief Donald Tusk predicted that member states would introduce measures against Moscow over its suspected role in the spy poisoning case.

Ambassador Sergei Andreev said details will be released by the Polish side later in the day. Foreign ministries in Denmark, Estonia and other EU countries are expected to announce measures to reporters. In the US the White House is also expected to make a statement.

Several EU countries said Friday they may follow Britain in expelling Russian diplomats in a deepening crisis over the nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy in England. Britain has blamed Russia, but Moscow denies responsibility.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 27 March 2018 KSA 00:40 - GMT 21:40
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