MOSCOW — Russia has vowed on Monday to expel dozens of western diplomats, in a tit-for-tat diplomatic response by the UK, the US and other countries over the Salisbury nerve gas attack on the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.
The Russian foreign ministry, in an official communique, issued a ‘determined protest’ to the expulsions and said it would respond to the “unfriendly act”.
“The provocative gesture of proverbial solidarity with London by these countries, having being led along by the British authorities in the so-called Skripal case and not having bothered to sort out the circumstances of what happened, are the continuation of a confrontational line toward escalating the situation,” the ministry wrote in its statement.
Britain, The United States, European Union member states, Ukraine, Canada and Australia have ordered the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in England.
On Monday, the Russian embassy to the US launched a Twitter poll asking users to vote on which American consulate should be closed in Russia.
The US has an embassy in Moscow and consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, The Guardian reported.
Konstantin Kosachev, the chair of the upper house of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs council, said on Facebook on Monday that the expulsions of its diplomats were “unprecedentedly dirty” and accused western countries of following a “herd instinct”.
“It will happen everywhere until they wake up and come to their senses. We should not expect any apologies, that’s not what this unprecedentedly dirty and low game was made for,” he wrote on the social media site.
Germany, France and Poland have expelled four diplomats each, their respective foreign ministries confirmed on Monday, while The Netherlands, Denmark and Italy will expel two diplomats each, their foreign ministries said,according to RT news.
For the unversed, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday announced that he would be expelling two Russian diplomats.
Australia became the latest country to join in the unprecedented international response to the poisoning of Skripal earlier this month.
On Monday, the United States led the charge with President Donald Trump, expelling 60 Russian diplomats and flagging that it will close a Russian consulate in Seattle, located near America’s sensitive aerospace hub and a submarine base.
Subsequently, 14 European Union (EU) countries followed suit, ousting dozens of Russian officials from their respective soils.
Likewise, Lithuania has expelled three, their foreign minister said. The Czech Republic will expel the same number of diplomats.
Meanwhile, Latvia is expelling one diplomat and an Aeroflot employee, and Estonia’s foreign minister has confirmed the country is expelling a military attache at the Russian embassy. Finland and Sweden are expelling one each.
Last week, UK suspended 21 Russian diplomats back to Moscow after the former said that Russia was “highly responsible” for the poisoning attack.
Russian rocket fails in the mid air, crew lands safely
COSMODROME—Booster rocket carrying a Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian and US astronaut on board headed for the International Space Station failed in mid-air on Thursday, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing.
U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin landed safely without any harm.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, quoted by Interfax, said the problem occurred when the first and second stages of the booster rocket were in the process of separating.
The rocket was launched from the Soviet-era cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. A Reuters reporter who observed the launch from around 1 km away said that it had gone smoothly in its initial stage.
“Search and rescue teams are in the air and heading towards the expected touchdown location for the Soyuz spacecraft returning to Earth carrying two crew members,” NASA said in a statement.
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