North Atlantic Treaty Organisation joins wave of Russian diplomat expulsions

"But it is part of a broader response by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to a pattern of unacceptable and unsafe behaviour by Russia", Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.

The mass expulsions were a show of solidarity for Britain, which blames Russian Federation for the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The US-led military alliance expelled seven Russian staff and denied accreditation to three more, bringing the total number of suspected Russian spies expelled to nearly 150, including the 23 initially dispatched by Britain.

They mostly work now from Russian diplomatic premises in central Brussels.

Mrs May has hailed the "unprecedented series of expulsions" of Russian diplomats across the globe in the wake of the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.

"When one or two diplomats are asked to leave this or that country, with apologies being whispered into our ears, we know for certain that this is a result of colossal pressure and blackmail, which is Washington's chief instrument in the global scene". The British side claims that the Russian state is involved in the case, as nerve agent A234 was allegedly developed in the Soviet Union. Moscow has fiercely denied the charge and has pointed the finger at British intelligence.

"The attack in Salisbury was not just an attack against the United Kingdom but an affront to the worldwide rules-based system on which we all depend for our security and wellbeing", Ireland's Foreign Ministry said. The US move came despite Trump's previous promise to improve relations with Moscow.

On Monday, the US, Germany, Canada and a number of other nations expelled a scores of Moscow diplomats, a move Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described as "blackmail".

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Russia's ambassadors in Poland as well as Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have been summoned to those countries' foreign ministries, said the reports.

On Monday, European Council President Donald Tusk announced in Varna, Bulgaria, that 14 European Union (EU) member states had chose to expel Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.

But Western officials made it clear in announcing the expulsions that they share Britain's assessment that only the Kremlin could have been responsible.

Britain has emphasized that the attack took place in the context of "reckless behavior" by Russian President Vladimir Putin, including the annexation of Crimea. Turnbull slammed Russian Federation for "reckless and deliberate" conduct that he said harms global security and violates rules against the use of chemical weapons.

"There was a time when this tactic of sowing doubt might have been effective, but no one is fooled any more".

This was the largest US expulsion of Russian or Soviet agents ever and comes after Trump's predecessor Barack Obama expelled 35 in late 2016 over alleged election meddling.

The Russian embassy in Washington responded by asking its Twitter followers to vote on which USA consulate should be closed, listing those in Vladivostok, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg as options.

  • Sonia Alvarado