Many European countries, the US and Canada have expelled Russian diplomats and officials following the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4, in the UK.

A police car stands in front of the Russian embassy building in Warsaw, Poland. March 26, 2018.
A police car stands in front of the Russian embassy building in Warsaw, Poland. March 26, 2018. (Reuters)

A number of countries across Europe and North America are expelling Russian diplomats in a co-ordinated response to the nerve agent attack on a former spy in the English city of Salisbury, EU President Donald Tusk said on Monday.

"As a direct follow-up to last week's European Council decision to react to Russia within a common framework, already today 14 member states have decided to expel Russian diplomats," Tusk told a news conference in Varna, Bulgaria.

"Additional measures including further expulsions are not to be excluded in the coming days and weeks."

TRT World's Leone Lakhani has more on the story.

Tusk's statement came as EU member states were still openly declaring their intention to expel Russian staff and how many staff they plan to expel. The number has since increased from 14.

European countries Norway, Ukraine and Albania, which are not EU members, said they will also expel Russian diplomats.

The US said it is expelling 60 Russian officials, including intelligence agents based in the UN in New York, while Canada will expel four.

Here are the countries that have declared their intention to expel Russian diplomats so far and how many Russian staff they will target.

  1. France: Four diplomats
  2. Denmark: Two diplomats
  3. US: 60 officials, closes consulate in Seattle
  4. Ukraine: 13 diplomats
  5. Lithuania: Three diplomats
  6. Poland: Four diplomats
  7. Germany: Four diplomats
  8. The Netherlands: Two diplomats
  9. Estonia: One diplomat
  10. Czech Republic: Three diplomats
  11. Latvia: One diplomat
  12. Italy: Two diplomats
  13. Canada: Four diplomats
  14. Romania: One diplomat
  15. Finland: One diplomat
  16. Croatia: To declare Russian diplomat "persona non grata"
  17. Sweden: One diplomat
  18. Albania: Two diplomats
  19. Norway: One diplomat
  20. Spain: Two diplomats
  21. Hungary: One diplomat
  22. Australia: Two diplomats
  23. Ireland: One diplomat
  24. Moldova: Three diplomats
  25. Macedonia: One diplomat

The move came after British Prime Minister Theresa May addressed fellow European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels to urge them to support Britain's assessment that Russia was to blame.

The 28 EU states issued a statement saying they agreed it was highly likely Russia was responsible for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4, and ordered the recall of the bloc's ambassador to Moscow.

TRT World's Tetiana Anderson reports from Washington on the US decision to expel 60 Russians.

Britain's response

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday that 18 countries have announced plans to expel Russian intelligence officers in response to Moscow's suspected involvement in the nerve agent attack.

May said the expulsions are a message against Russian "attempts to flout international law."

"I have found great solidarity from our friends and partners in the EU, NATO, America and beyond. Together, we have sent a message that we will not tolerate Russia's continued attempts to flout international law and undermine our values," she told parliament.

TRT World's Ira Spitzer is in Berlin with more on Germany's support for the UK.

Russia to retaliate

The Russian foreign ministry on Monday vowed to retaliate against the expulsions of its diplomats by the United States and Canada, as well as several European Union countries and Ukraine over the poisoning. 

"We express a decisive protest over the decision taken by a number of EU and NATO countries to expel Russian diplomats," the ministry said in a statement, calling the moves a "provocative gesture."

Moscow vowed that this "unfriendly step by this group of countries will not pass without trace and we will respond to it."

The Kremlin on Monday insisted that Moscow is innocent.

"We very much regret these decisions. The reason that is being given for them is the so-called Skripal case. We have already said and we repeat this again: Russia did not and does not have anything to do with this case," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by state news agency TASS.

TRT World's Lucy Taylor reports from Moscow on Russia's response to the wave of Russian expulsions.