North Atlantic Treaty Organisation expels seven Russian diplomats over ex-spy attack

Technology       by Mahmood Idrees | Published

The staff of the Russian mission at NATO headquarters is to be reduced from 30 to 20 people, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference.

A removal van was seen outside the Russian embassy in London on Tuesday, as Moscow is awaiting almost two dozen Russian diplomats ordered to leave Britain as part of a standoff over a nerve agent attack on British soil.

"These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO's founding treaty - Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and global organisations", information on its site says.

Theresa May hailed the "unprecedented series of expulsions" of Russian diplomats across the globe following the assassination attempt against Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia earlier this month.

Skripal, a Russian military intelligence officer imprisoned by Moscow for passing on information about Russian agents in various European countries, came to Britain in a 2010 spy swap.

Downing Street saying that more than 115 Russian diplomats had been ordered home by friends and allies, Dublin added one more to the list.

Moscow has fiercely denied any involvement in his attempted murder, instead pointing the finger at London.

The announcement comes one day after more than half of countries that make up that bloc - United States and much of European Union - y foreshadowed coordinated expulsions of more than a hundred Russian diplomats.

"The attack in Salisbury was not just an attack against the United Kingdom but an affront to the global rules-based system on which we all depend for our security and wellbeing", Ireland's Foreign Ministry said. Stoltenberg called the poisoning a "reckless breach of worldwide norms", and commended the "broad, strong and coordinated global response" by more than 25 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and partners.

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

Britain has emphasized that the attack took place in the context of "reckless behavior" by Russian President Vladimir Putin, including the annexation of Crimea.

US officials announced that 48 "intelligence officers" attached to Russian diplomatic missions in the United States would be expelled, along with 12 accredited to the United Nations in NY.

In addition, the Russian consulate general in Seattle will be closed, the White House said.

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