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

Jens Stoltenberg announced the expulsion of seven Russian staff at the alliance mission and the rejection of three more

Jens Stoltenberg announced the expulsion of seven Russian staff at the alliance mission and the rejection of three more

Britain hailed the mass expulsions as a "turning point" for the West's attitude to a "reckless" Russian Federation, but Moscow denies responsiblity for the poisoning and has vowed to carry out tit-for-tat measures of its own.

It followed moves by governments in Europe, the United States and beyond to expel more than 100 Russian diplomats in retaliation for an alleged attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.

Nato has expelled seven Russian diplomats from its Brussels headquarters and will bar another three from working there, the organisation's Secretary General has said.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has also denied accreditation to three more Russian diplomats, bringing the total number of positions available down from 30 to 20.

"This sends a clear message to Russian Federation that there are costs and consequences for its unacceptable and unsafe pattern of behavior", Stoltenberg said, adding that "it follows Russia's lack of constructive response to what happened in Salisbury".

Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday on a trip to Uzbekistan that the US has applied "colossal pressure, colossal blackmail, which have become Washington's main instrument on the global arena".

Lavrov said the coordinated response was the result of "colossal pressure, colossal blackmail" from the United States.

"These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO's founding treaty - Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and global organisations", information on its site says.

Former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned on 4 March.

Russian Federation has denied any involvement.

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Washington led the way in responding, ordering out 60 Russians in a new blow to US-Russia ties less than a week after President Donald Trump congratulated his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on his re-election.

The alliance has been wary of work of Russian diplomats on Western soil for years.

Earlier this month, Britain announced to expel 23 Russian diplomats and freeze Russian state assets in Britain.

Ryan says: "Civil nations don't act like that.it's important that we act in solidarity with our ally, particularly in this case the British, to condemn this kind of activity by Russian Federation".

May told lawmakers on Tuesday that Britain's interior minister was reviewing investor visas, although the checks on possible loopholes were not specifically focused on Russian Federation.

"Yesterday was a significant moment in our response to this reckless act of aggression, but there is still more to be done as we work with global partners on a long-term response to the challenge posed by Russian Federation", her spokesman reported May as saying.

Anor European country was added this Tuesday to 14 that announced yesterday expulsions of Russian representatives.

Johnson also accused Russian Federation of seeking to avoid pressure by putting out a variety of explanations for what Western officials say was the first offensive use of a chemical weapon in Europe since World War II.

"There was a time when this tactic of sowing doubt might have been effective, but no one is fooled any more", Johnson wrote, adding that the expulsions were "a moment when the cynicism of the propaganda machine was exposed for all to see".