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27 countries, NATO expel 151 Russian envoys – U.S

The United States said no fewer than 151 Russian envoys have so far been expelled by 27 countries and NATO as punishment for its alleged role in the attempted assassination of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.
Ms Heather Nauert, Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, said alongside its announcement, there had been an unprecedented wave of similar actions and expulsions taken by other governments, U.S. global partners and its allies.
She said: “The United States, the United Kingdom, NATO, and now 25 other countries have so far announced the expulsions of 151 Russian personnel.
“To highlight for you – and I can provide you this list, and I’ll just read a few of those countries who, in concert with the United States and the UK, of course, are working together on this.
“Ukraine deciding to expel 13; NATO, we learned this morning, seven; France four; Germany four; Poland four; Canada four; Lithuania eight; the Czech Republic three; Moldova three, we just learned about that today.
“The Netherlands two; Denmark two; Albania two; Italy two; Spain, Australia, both two; Romania, Estonia, one each; Latvia, Croatia, Sweden, Macedonia, Norway, Hungary, Finland and Ireland, one each for those countries.
“And we’ve just most recently learned of Belgium deciding to kick out one. The United Kingdom, of course, deciding to expel 23.”
She said President Donald Trump personally ordered the action to demonstrate U.S. unbreakable solidarity with the United Kingdom after Russia allegedly used a military-grade nerve agent to attack a British citizen and his daughter.
Nauert said Trump also ordered the U.S. to impose serious consequences on Russia for its continued violations of international law.
Consequently, she said in addition to the 48 Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover, they had been declared persona non grata.
“We have also separately initiated the process of expelling 12 Russian intelligence officers also operating under diplomatic cover from Russia’s Mission to the United Nations in New York for abusing their privilege of residence under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement.
“Together, these steps constitute the largest single expulsion of Russians ever ordered by the United States.
“It is a mark of how seriously we take the threat that Russia poses, and an indication of our readiness to impose further costs to respond to this and other reckless and destabilising actions,” she said.
Nauert said an interagency process had worked tirelessly over the past three weeks to achieve this unprecedented level of cooperation and also coordination.
“The end result – 151 Russian intelligence personnel sent home to Moscow – is a testimony of how seriously the world takes Russia’s ongoing global campaign to undermine international peace and stability.
“And to threaten the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide, and to subvert and discredit Western institutions,” the spokesperson said. (NAN)

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