North Atlantic Treaty Organisation expels 7 Russian diplomats, denies accreditation to 3 more


North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief Jens Stoltenberg says the military alliance will expel seven staffers from the Russian mission due to the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

Ireland says it is expelling a Russian diplomat, joining more than 20 other nations in punishing Moscow for the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal.

"I welcome the worldwide support that we have garnered", she said.

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

Tuesday's decision follows "Russia's lack of constructive response to what happened in Salisbury", the statement said.

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

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today accused Washington of applying "colossal pressure" to achieve the massive, coordinated global response to the poisoning.

The move comes amid ongoing tensions between the organization and Russian Federation, which sees NATO's recent expansion into Eastern Europe as a direct threat. Germany, France, and Poland each expelled four; the Czech Republic and Lithuania each expelled three; Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Italy each expelled two; and Hungary, Sweden, Croatia, Romania, Finland, Latvia, and Estonia announced plans to expel one Russian diplomat each.

With Downing Street saying that more than 115 Russian diplomats had been ordered home by friends and allies, Dublin added one more to the list. The British side claims that the Russian state is involved in the case, as nerve agent A234 was allegedly developed in the Soviet Union.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday that Russia was disappointed by the US announcement that it would expel 60 Russian diplomats and shut down a Russian consulate in Seattle.

"It is astonishing how easily the allies of Great Britain follow it blindly contrary to the norms of civilised bilateral dialogue and global relations, and against ... common sense", said the embassy.