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1ST LEAD Western diplomats told to leave Russia as Moscow reacts to expulsions By Peter Spinella, dpa

Europe
30.03.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Moscow (dpa) - Numerous ambassadors were summoned to appear at Russia‘s Foreign Ministry Friday as Moscow continued to expel Western diplomats in tit-for-tat measures that are part of a dispute that has devastated Russia‘s already tense relations with the West.

Britain must reduce the number of staff members at its embassy and consulates in Russia to a level that matches the number of such Russian staff in Britain, Russia‘s Foreign Ministry said after it summoned British Ambassador Laurie Bristow for a meeting.

It did not disclose the exact number of staff who must leave the British embassy.

Russia also informed the Netherlands that it was expelling two Dutch diplomats as Russia continued to mete out retribution for a wave of expulsions of Russian diplomats earlier this week by the Netherlands and more than 20 other countries. Italy was also told to withdraw two staff members.

The previous expulsions of Russian diplomats were to show solidarity with Britain, which accuses the Russian state of perpetrating a chemical weapon attack on a former Russian spy in the southern English city of Salisbury.

Russia‘s Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador on Thursday to inform him that Russia was expelling 60 US diplomats and closing the US consulate in St Petersburg.

The US announced earlier this week that it was expelling the same number of Russian diplomats and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.

Russia‘s Foreign Ministry on Friday also summoned the ambassadors of Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, and Poland, as well as diplomatic representatives from Albania, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania and Ukraine, state media reported.

German Ambassador Ruediger von Fritsch affirmed after his meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow that "Germany‘s interest in having a good relationship with Russia remains. We remain open to dialogue."

"In the face of the grave incident in Salisbury, it is up to the Russian government to do everything it can to provide clarity and transparency and to answer legitimate questions," Von Fritsch told reporters.

Britain has accused the Russian state of perpetrating a chemical weapon attack on the former spy turned double agent, Sergei Skripal. Russia has adamantly denied the allegation.

Britain this month expelled 23 Russian diplomats because of the scandal; Russia expelled the same number of British diplomats.

 

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