A car drives past a building of the Polish embassy in Moscow. (Photo: Reuters)
Warsaw (People’s Daily) – Fourteen European Union member states announced on Monday they would expel 44 Russian diplomats in a show of support with Great Britain over the poison attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, UK.
European Council President Dongal Trusk said EU leaders reached their decisions last week to support Britain during their ongoing two-day summit in the Belgian capital.
Participating countries Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania withdrew their ambassadors from Moscow on Monday, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Other member states are expected to take similar actions this week. Meanwhile, Brussels recalled Markus Ederer, head of the European Union Delegation in Russia, for consultations.
“The aim is to show solidarity with Great Britain,” Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said during a press conference on Monday, adding that Britain had been targeted in an "unprecedented attack,
which was the first deliberate use of chemical weapons against a group of civilians in Europe in the history of post-war Europe.”
Czaputowicz told reporters Russian diplomats would have to leave Poland by April 3.
Tensions over UK-Russian relations escalated after the UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “highly likely” that Russia poisoned Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent on March 4
In response to the alleged poison attack, London has since expelled 23 Russian diplomats believed to be intelligence agents.
Speaking at the House of Commons in the UK on Monday, May said that while she was in Brussels, she successfully made her case against Russia.
“Today, 18 countries have announced their intention to expel more than 100 intelligence officers” in what she described as the “largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history.”
May later warned the “challenge of Russia is one that will endure for years to come.”