North Atlantic Treaty Organisation expels seven Russian diplomats over spy-poisoning

He said the move was intended the show Vladimir Putin's regime "that there are costs and consequences for its unacceptable and unsafe pattern of behaviour".

In coordinated announcements of expulsions on Monday, fourteen European Union states including Germany, France, the Netharlands, Italy and Poland are expelling Russian diplomats in a response to the nerve agent attack on a former spy in the English city of Salisbury.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were admitted to a hospital on March 4 after being found unconscious in the southern English city of Salisbury.

Commenting on the move, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that anti-Russian measures introduced over Skripal case demonstrate how few independent countries remain in the modern world.

Moscow has fiercely denied any involvement in his attempted murder, instead pointing the finger at London.

"The attack in Salisbury was not just an attack against the United Kingdom, but an affront to the global rules-based system on which we all depend for our security and well-being".

On Monday, European Council President Donald Tusk announced in Varna, Bulgaria, that 14 European Union (EU) member states had chose to expel Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.

The Russian foreign ministry said: "This provocative gesture of notorious solidarity with London, made by countries that preferred to follow in London's footsteps without bothering to look into other circumstances of the incident, merely continues the policy of escalating the confrontation". Stoltenberg called the poisoning a "reckless breach of global norms", and commended the "broad, strong and coordinated worldwide response" by more than 25 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and partners.

Earlier this month, Britain announced to expel 23 Russian diplomats and freeze Russian state assets in Britain. He warned that Moscow will retaliate for the expulsions, saying "such boorishness can't be tolerated".

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Washington and its allies were acting "in response to Russia's use of a military-grade chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom".

Britain has emphasized that the attack took place in the context of "reckless behavior" by Russian President Vladimir Putin, including the annexation of Crimea.

"There was a time when this tactic of sowing doubt might have been effective, but no one is fooled any more".

Others expelling diplomats on Tuesday included Ireland.

The Russian Embassy in Washington asked its Twitter followers to vote on which US consulate should be closed in response to the closing of the Russian consulate in Seattle, listing those in Vladivostok, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg as options.

  • Jon Douglas