International desk, Mar 26: The United States and its European allies are expelling dozens of Russian diplomats in a co-ordinated response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK.US President Donald Trump has ordered 60 Russian diplomats to leave the country.
Germany, France, Ukraine and various other EU countries have made the same move.
Russia has indicated it will respond “proportionately”.
Russia denies any role in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, southern England. The pair remain in a critical but stable condition in hospital.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the EU for its “perverted interpretation of solidarity” with the UK.
EU leaders agreed last week it was highly likely Russia was behind the nerve-agent poisoning.
In the US, 48 of the envoys to be expelled are said to be based at the Russian embassy in Washington and the others are at the UN in New York.
It will also order the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.
The US state department said in a statement: “On March 4, Russia used a military-grade nerve agent to attempt to murder a British citizen and his daughter in Salisbury.
“This attack on our Ally the United Kingdom put countless innocent lives at risk and resulted in serious injury to three people, including a police officer.”
It called the attack an “outrageous violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and breach of international law”.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said his decision to expel 13 diplomats was taken “in the spirit of solidarity with our British partners and transatlantic allies and in co-ordination with EU countries”.
Earlier on Monday, various European countries – including Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland – had summoned Russian ambassadors to their foreign ministries.
Source: BBC and agencies