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North Atlantic Treaty Organisation cuts Russian diplomats' access over nerve agent attack

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation cuts Russian diplomats' access over nerve agent attack

Stoltenberg said he had also cut the maximum size of the Russian mission to 20 people from 30, in the latest move by the alliance to reduce what was once one of the biggest national delegations at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Jens Stoltenberg announced on Tuesday that the intergovernmental military alliance would be expelling seven observers from the Russian mission over the poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK.

"This will send a clear message to Russian Federation that there are costs and consequences for their unacceptable pattern of behavior".

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.

However, Mr Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, stressed that the alliance would still seek regular talks with Moscow via the NATO-Russia Council, a special forum that groups NATO envoys and Moscow's ambassador to the alliance.

In recent days more than 115 Russian diplomats have also been expelled across the globe in a diplomatic backlash against the Kremlin following the attack earlier this month.

Stoltenberg said he would also deny the pending accreditation request for three other Russian diplomats. "This will bring the maximum size down to twenty", Stoltenberg said.

Numerous countries to follow suit on Monday said they did so out of solidarity with the British government.

Last week, following an European Union summit in Brussels, the U.K., Germany, and France reaffirmed that the Russian state was responsible for the nerve agent poisoning of Skripal and his daughter.

They mostly work now from Russian diplomatic premises in central Brussels.

Russian Federation has denied any involvement.

All in all, on Monday, about 100 Russian diplomats were expelled from 16 European countries, as well as US, Canada and Australia.

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.

Asked on Monday about a report that the US would also expel Russian diplomats, presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia will act according to the principle of reciprocity. He warned that Moscow will retaliate for the expulsions, saying "such boorishness can't be tolerated".


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