“By mass expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and the closure of the Russian Consulate in Seattle, Washington demonstrates its involvement to the international “theater of the absurd,” in which London plays. Instead of supporting the normalization of relations with Moscow, both London and Washington are driving the situation into a deadlock: they need to provide irrefutable evidence of Moscow’s accusation. In addition, the fact that the United States actually joined the UK may indicate that Washington is also taking responsibility for this Salisbury provocation. The fact of mass expulsion of Russian diplomats indirectly testifies to this,” – I.Pshenichnikov said.
RISS expert also noted very restrained position of Europeans, who had demonstrated their loyalty to allied obligations. “The decisions that were adopted at the last EU summit didn’t sound like a condemnation of Russia. The Europeans welcomed the investigation, but clearly no one was in solidarity with the UK.”
“Poland, the Baltic States, and other countries expel diplomats, but their actions are demonstration of solidarity with Great Britain. They don’t share responsibility as Washington does,” – the expert stressed.
The U.S. actions
On March 26, the United States announced the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats (46 people from the Embassy in Washington, two from the Consulate General in New York, another 12 employees of the permanent mission of the Russian Federation to the UN declared persona non grata). In addition, Washington closed the Consulate General of Russia in Seattle. The reason for this was the poisoning of the former Colonel of GRU Sergei Skripal, convicted in Russia for espionage in favor of the UK.
After that London made the statement that this substance allegedly was developed in Russia and accused Moscow of involvement into this incident. The Russian side categorically rejected all accusations, pointing out that there were no programs for the development of such a substance either in the USSR or in Russia.
The decision of the EU Summit
On March 23, a new wording appeared in the final statement of the EU summit on Skripal case. The full wording of the EU Summit sounds like that: “The EU Summit takes very seriously the assessment of the United Kingdom government that the Russian Federation bears the responsibility for this incident and there is no alternative plausible explanation.”
After that the EU leaders decided to recall the permanent representative of the EU for consultations from Moscow, and a number of countries expressed their intention to consider individual measures for the expulsion of Russian diplomats. No practical sanctions decisions have been taken, but the issue may be raised again at the next EU Summit in June.