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SEPTEMBER 2020

Russia Expels Diplomats From 19 Countries In Tit-For-Tat Move Amid Skripal Case

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Russia Expels Diplomats From 19 Countries In Tit-For-Tat Move Amid Skripal Case

British embassy in Moscow, Russia. Photo: Tatyana Makeyeva / Reuters

The Russian Foreign Ministry has announced a decision to expel diplomats from 19 countries – Ierland, Poland, Latvia, Netherlands, Lithuania, Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Latvia, Sweden, Estonia, Czech Republic, Germany, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Norway, Spain, Canada – in a tit-for-tat move amid the so-called Skripal case.

The foreign ministry also noted that it keeps a right to expel diplomats from Montenegro, Belgium, Hungary and Georgia in regard to their actions over the Scripal case.

The total number of diplomats that will be expelled is 48:

  • Lithuania – 3
  • Netherlands – 2
  • Italy – 2
  • Finland – 1
  • Poland – 4
  • Latvia – 1
  • Czech Republic – 3
  • Germany – 4
  • Sweden – 1
  • Estonia – 1 [military attache]
  • Ukraine – 13
  • Moldova – 3
  • Romania – 1
  • Croatia – 1
  • Norway – 1
  • Spain – 2
  • Ireland – 1
  • Denmark – 2
  • Canada – 4

On March 29, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced Russia will expel 60 US diplomats and close the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg. The building of the Consulate General in St Petersburg should be freed from US officials not later than March 31. 58 employees of the US Embassy in Moscow and two staff members of the Consulate General in Yekaterinburg have to depart from Russia by April 5, 2018.

On March 17, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that 23 employees of the UK Embassy in Moscow will be expelled from Russia. Moscow also revoked an agreement on opening and operation of the UK Consulate General in the Russian city of St. Petersburg and suspended the activity of the British Council in the country.

Russian actions were a response to the West’s aggression via diplomatic measures and channels.

Earlier in March, the US, the UK as well as several EU and non-EU states announced an expulsion of different numbers of Russian diplomats [the US expelled 60] over the so-called Skripal case.

Hint: Former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with an alleged military-grand chemical agent “Novichok” in in Salisbury, the UK. The UK immediately accused Russia of being behind the murder attempt. The US and some other states supported the British claim. However, no evidence confirming the Russian involvement was provided.

Despite the tit-for-tat measures implemented by Russia, many experts note that Russia have implemented very soft measures because Moscow has provided foreign diplomats with long terms to depart from Russia. It was expected that Moscow will make direct steps aimed at damaging the intelligence infrastructure of Western states in Russia like it had been done in case of the UK.

Hint: According to experts, the British Council had been a hotbed of career officers of MI6 [The Secret Intelligence Service] and MI6 agent assets.

However, no such measures were implemented. Some experts think that this is a signal that Moscow is ready for a constructive dialogue with the rest of Europe.

However, SF has received another debatable but interesting opinion. According to this version, the Russian decision could be explained by a weakness of the Russian Foreign Ministry. A notable number of the ministry’s employees is reportedly unsympathetic to Russia’s modern day foreign policy. A major part of these unsympathetic employees is young people – sons and daughters of high-ranking officials.

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