Russia Expels Western Diplomats in Retaliatory Move Over Ex-spy Poisoning Dispute

Russia has expelled diplomats from Poland, Sweden, Finland, and others, individual state media reported ■ Kremlin says Putin discussed retaliatory measures with Security Council

German Ambassador to Russia Ruediger von Fritsch leaves the Russian foreign ministry building in Moscow, Russia March 30, 2018.
\ MAXIM SHEMETOV/ REUTERS

Russia has expelled numerous diplomats from Western countries in retaliation for their decision to expel Russian diplomats over the nerve agent attack on an ex-spy in the U.K. Russia's foreign ministry said on Friday it was summoning ambassadors from Western countries who had taken "unfriendly" steps over the poisoning and informing them of Moscow's retaliatory measures. 

Diplomats from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, and Poland have been expelled, individual state media and foreign ministries have reported. Ambassadors of other Western nations were summoned to Moscow.

The Kremlin said that Putin discussed retailiatory measures against states that expelled Russian diplomats with members of his Security Council. 

Russia also summoned representatives of the French, Croatian, Belgium, Czech, Dutch and Ukranian foreign ministries.   

Emerging from the building, German ambassador Rudiger von Fritsch said that Russia had to answer questions about the poisoning of the ex-spy, Sergei Skripal, but that Berlin was open to dialogue with Moscow. 

Earlier this week, the Russian Embassy in the United States tweeted a poll quickly after the U.S. announcement asking which U.S. consulate they should close in retaliation. Forty-seven percent of the responders said the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg should be closed.

The Russian Foreign ministry declared the 58 U.S. diplomats in Moscow and the two general consulate officers as persona non grata, and said the consulate should suspend work in two days. The U.S. diplomats should leave Russia by April 5th, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.