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.
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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 co-operation and visa liberalization were just as important as a clampdown on President Vladimir Putin and his closest allies.
WATCH: NATO pulls accreditation from 7 Russian members
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 co-operation which we have to offer,” he said.
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The United States, Britain, and Canada, along with a total of two dozen countries, have expelled a more than 130 Russian diplomats, in a show of solidarity with Britain over the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in England.
Irish 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.
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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.
WATCH: Canada expels four Russian diplomats – what does that mean for Canada-Russia relations?
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.”