North Atlantic Treaty Organisation cuts Russian permanent mission by one third

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz

Nato's boss Jens Stoltenberg said it would expel seven Russian diplomats, and would deny accreditation to another three as part of the push for the worldwide community to punish Putin for the spy poisoning.

"This sends a clear message to Russian Federation that there are costs and consequences for its unacceptable and risky pattern of behavior", he said.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that Russia ever even manufactured the poison that was used in the attack on Skripal, a claim since disputed by several former Soviet scientists.

Stoltenberg also stressed that NATO remained committed to a dual-track approach of strong defense and openness to dialogue, including by working to prepare the next meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.

Theresa May praised the "unprecedented series of expulsions" across the globe, with Belgium becoming the 26th country to take action, expelling one diplomat.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement that the intensive consultations have taken place among NATO allies following the "attack in Salisbury" against Skripal and his daughter.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation withdrew accreditation for seven staff members at Russia's mission to the alliance on Tuesday in response to a nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent in England.

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"It appears Moscow misjudged the strong global condemnation to its attempt to murder a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter", wrote the Soufan Group security firm Tuesday.

Many EU countries also ordered Russian diplomats out.

"We know for certain that this is a result of colossal pressure and colossal blackmail, which is Washington's chief instrument in the global scene", said Lavrov. Moscow has fiercely denied the charge and has pointed the finger at British intelligence.

Asked on Monday about a report that the USA would also expel Russian diplomats, presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia will act according to the principle of reciprocity.

The coordinated action among Western allies is seen as a huge diplomatic coup for May whose country is preparing to exit the European Union bloc and may have had doubts about how much support she could count on.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that Russia "strongly protests" diplomats expulsion by the United States and 14 European countries over the ex-spy case, vowing to retaliate.

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