- U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan addresses media at the Czech Republic's Parliament in Prague, Czech Republic, Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on the dispute over the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. (all times local):
Bulgaria, which has so far not made a decision to expel Russian diplomats, says it has recalled its ambassador to Moscow for “consultations.”
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Ambassador Boyko Kotsev discussed by phone the nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy in England, as well as the reactions in Russia, the European Union and the international community, the government’s press office said.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels last week, Borissov said that the EU’s support for Britain, which blames Russia for the March 4 attack, was a “joint decision which we support.”
But he said that since Britain had claimed there was “high level of possibility” that Russia was behind the nerve attack on the Skripals, he had asked for more evidence before his government makes a decision.
Two dozen Western countries have ordered the expulsion of Russian diplomats in response to the spy poisoning case.
Slovakia’s president has asked the foreign ministry to explain why his country has not joined two dozen other countries in expelling Russian diplomats over the nerve agent attack on an ex-intelligence officer in Britain.
In a statement Tuesday, President Andrej Kiska says he has met Deputy Foreign Minister Lukas Parizek and considered his explanation unsatisfactory.
Kiska says he has called Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini over the issue and told him he expects Slovakia to respond to “a request to express solidarity with our important ally.”
Slovak leaders are scheduled to meet to discuss it on Wednesday.
The Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador on Monday to condemn the use of a nerve agent in the attack in Salisbury, calling it “unacceptable,” but no Russian diplomats have been expelled from Slovakia so far.
Moldova’s foreign ministry has ordered three Russian diplomats to leave the former Soviet republic within seven days.
The foreign ministry summoned Russia’s Ambassador Farit Muhametshin on Tuesday to inform him of the decision, which followed similar expulsions of Russians from many other Western countries Monday. The moves were a gesture of solidarity with Britain over the nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain.
A statement said the attack was “a threat on the collective security and international law.”
Moldova’s pro-Western government is seeking closer relations with the U.S. and the European Union.
Last year Moldova expelled five Russian diplomats, accusing them of espionage.
NATO’s secretary-general says that the spate of expulsions of Russian diplomats by alliance members shows Moscow that it its behavior since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine “has costs.”
Jens Stoltenberg announced the expulsion of seven Russian staff at the alliance mission and the rejection of three more accreditations, reducing Russia’s diplomatic manpower from 30 to 20 at the alliance.
Stoltenberg said that “I actually think that Russia has underestimated the unity of NATO allies.”
Since the Crimea annexation in 2014, Stoltenberg said the NATO alliance has built up its military presence, increased defense spending and imposed economic sanctions on Russia, now compounded by diplomatic action since the March 4 nerve agent attack on a Russian ex-spy in Britain, which blames Moscow for it. Russian denies any involvement.
He said it “is a very strong response and which also imposes costs on Russia because of their behavior since the illegal annexation of Crimea.”
The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives has praised a coordinated reaction by Western allies to the nerve gas attack on a former Russian spy in England.
Addressing the lower house of Czech Parliament and later talking to reporters, House Speaker Paul Ryan says: “solidarity on this frontier of freedom is more important than ever.”
Western nations have expelled more than 130 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with Britain over the nerve agent attack.
Ryan says: “Civil nations don’t act like that … it’s important that we act in solidarity with our ally, particularly in this case the British, to condemn this kind of activity by Russia.”
Ryan also accused Russia of spreading disinformation and engaging in cyberattacks. He says Russia “meddles in democratic elections through Europe as it did in the United States … we cannot and we will not tolerate this.”
Russia’s foreign minister says the expulsions of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain have followed U.S. “blackmail.”
Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday on a trip to Uzbekistan that the U.S. has applied “colossal pressure, colossal blackmail, which have become Washington’s main instrument on the international arena.”
The United States, NATO, 16 European Union nations and some other countries have announced they would expel more than 130 Russian diplomats in response to the nerve agent attack on a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter in Britain.
Britain has blamed the March 4 poisoning on Russia, which has fiercely denied the accusations.
Lavrov says, according to Russian news agencies, that Moscow will retaliate for the expulsions, saying “such boorishness can’t be tolerated.”
NATO 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.
He says NATO will also deny the pending accreditation request of three other workers at the Russian mission.
Russia is not a member of NATO. Stoltenberg says, despite the expulsions, Russia will still have a diplomatic mission of 20 people at alliance headquarters in Brussels and that will allow Russia to keep essential contacts with NATO members.
Stoltenberg says “we will continue to work for meaningful dialogue” with Russia but the measure announced Tuesday “send a very clear message to Russia that it has costs.”
Top EU lawmaker Guy Verhofstadt wants the European Union to sharpen sanctions on the Kremlin if necessary but also insists on a broader strategy to reach out to Russians in general.
The leader of the liberal ALDE group backed the expulsions of diplomatic staff by EU nations but said “that’s not enough.”
In an interview with The Associated Press, he said that economic cooperation and visa liberalization were just as important as a clampdown on President Vladimir Putin and his closest allies.
He compared it to the Helsinki detente process during the Cold War when channels were being kept open despite the fact that both sides had hundreds of nuclear warheads pointed at one another.
“Why not establish a big economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok?” Verhofstadt asked. “And at the same time asking, requesting for changes in the Russia society for application of the rule of law for a democracy, freedom of speech.”
“So political reforms in Russia as a counterpart for economic cooperation which we have to offer,” he said.
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.
Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said Tuesday that the nerve-agent attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia was a “shocking and abhorrent” use of chemical weapons. He said the Russian ambassador in Dublin has been informed that one diplomat from his embassy must leave Ireland.
Britain and Russia have expelled 23 of each other’s diplomats since the March 4 attack, which the U.K. blames on Moscow.
British Prime Minister Theresa May says 23 other countries have expelled more than 115 Russian diplomats, including 60 kicked out by the United States.
Russia denies responsibility and has vowed a “tough response” to the expulsions.
A top Russian diplomat says Moscow is preparing a “tough response” to Monday’s announcement by the United States that it is expelling 60 Russian diplomats.
The United States, European Union nations and some other countries announced they would expel a total of more than 130 Russian diplomats in response to the nerve agent attack on a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter in Britain.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in critical condition in the hospital in the English city of Salisbury after being exposed to what British authorities say was a Soviet-made military-grade nerve agent on March 4.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday that Russia was disappointed by the U.S. announcement that it would expel 60 Russian diplomats and shut down a Russian consulate in Seattle.
Ryabkov said the U.S. move “will be met with a tough response” but he did not elaborate.
Australia has become the latest country to announce that it is expelling Russian diplomats in response to the recent nerve agent attack on a former Russian military intelligence officer and his daughter in Britain.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull slammed “reckless and deliberate” conduct by Russia that harms global security and violates rules against the use of chemical weapons. He said in a statement Tuesday that the two diplomats targeted are undeclared intelligence officers and have been given seven days to leave Australia.
Western nations have expelled more than 130 diplomats in recent days.
The Russian Embassy in Canberra said the decision was regrettable and jeopardized the bilateral relationship.
“It is astonishing how easily the allies of Great Britain follow it blindly contrary to the norms of civilized bilateral dialogue and international relations, and against … common sense.”