European nations united in a rare coordinated rebuke of Russia on Monday, joining the United States and Canada in expelling scores of Russian diplomats. The expulsions, which were denounced by the Kremlin, were a show of solidarity with their ally Britain, which has accused the Kremlin of being behind the use of a nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter.
Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said that 14 European Union member nations were expelling dozens of Russian diplomats in solidarity with the government of Britain, which two weeks ago ejected 23 Russian diplomats who it said were engaged in espionage.
Ukraine, which is not part of the European Union but is fighting a Moscow-backed insurgency in its east, said it was expelling 13 Russians.
Together with the expulsion on Monday of 60 Russians by the United States and four by Canada, the European moves constituted a broad swipe at Russia’s diplomatic capabilities and — if Western assertions about the nature of Russian intelligence are correct — at its ability to conduct spying operations. It also demonstrated remarkable European unity behind Britain, at a time when Britain’s pending exit from the European Union and other tensions have been threatening the continent’s cohesion. [Continue reading…]
Further actions by the Western alliance are also on the table, a Western diplomat told me. “Today was a pretty extensive set of measures. We’ll see what Russia does in response,” he said. “We and our allies are constantly talking to each other about how we deal with this strategic threat. The locker is not empty.” The White House said that it had not ruled out sanctions against Putin himself. [Continue reading…]
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