Russia expels diplomats from 23 countries as spy crisis escalates
Russia expelled diplomats from 23 countries on Friday in retaliation against the West in a spy row, in the biggest wave of tit-for-tat expulsions in recent memory.
The Russian foreign ministry said it had summoned the heads of missions from 23 countries -- almost all of them European Union member states -- to tell them that some of their diplomats had to leave.
The diplomats from France, Canada, Germany, Australia and other countries were earlier seen arriving at the Russian foreign ministry in flagged official cars.
Germany and Poland each said that Russia was expelling four of their diplomats. Among the other countries that had similarly been told to pull their envoys were the Netherlands, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Finland and Lithuania.
Thirteen Ukrainian diplomats should also leave Russia.
The moves came in retaliation for the coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomats by Britain and its allies over a nerve agent attack against former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.
The Russian foreign ministry also gave Britain a month to cut the number of diplomatic staff in Russia to the same number Russia has in Britain.
In Britain, the government called the latest developments "regrettable" but remained adamant that Russia was in the wrong.
Russia also said it reserved the right to respond to the recent expulsion of Russian diplomats by Belgium, Hungary, Georgia and Montenegro.
In the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin presided over a meeting of the country's Security Council which discussed the most recent retaliatory steps against Britain and its allies.
The Kremlin insisted it was not Russia that had started the diplomatic war with the West.
Source: The Times of India.