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12° Nicosia,
14 July, 2020
 
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Nicosia will not follow EU and expel Russians

But the US and EU to expel more than 100 Russian diplomats over UK nerve attack

Newsroom

Cyprus will not proceed with expulsions, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromos told the Cyprus News Agency.

Prodromou was responding to European Council President Donald Tusk’s announcement regarding the decision of 14 EU Member States to expel Russian diplomats as direct follow-up to the European Council’s discussion last week on the UK attack of an ex-spy.

"Cyprus is among the 14 countries that will not take such measures. This was also the position of Cyprus at COREPER, that we are in line (with the EU Conclusions and Decisions) but our country is not in a position to take measures against countries that are permanent members of the UN Security Council, "he said.

Tusk announced that ‘additional measures including further expulsions are not excluded in coming days, weeks’.

The United States said on Monday it would expel 60 Russian diplomats, joining governments across Europe in punishing the Kremlin for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain that they have blamed on Moscow.

"our country is not in a position to take measures against countries that are permanent members of the UN Security Council"

It was the strongest action that U.S. President Donald Trump had taken against Russia since coming to office. He has been criticized by Democrats and members of his own Republican Party for failing to be tough enough on Russia over U.S. allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. electoral system, including the 2016 presidential campaign.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, welcoming the show of solidarity, said 18 countries had announced plans to expel Russian officials. Those included 14 European Union countries. In total, 100 Russian diplomats were being removed, the biggest Western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.

Australia later confirmed it was expelling two Russian diplomats identified as undeclared intelligence officers, citing Russia’s “reckless and deliberate conduct”. New Zealand said it had no such agents operating on its shores but would expel them if it did.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Twitter Monday’s “extraordinary international response by our allies stands in history as the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers ever and will help defend our shared security”.

May said the coordinated measures sent the “strongest signal to Russia that it cannot continue to flout international law”.

Britain had evidence Russia has investigated ways of distributing nerve agents for assassinations, May told parliament.

‘PROVOCATIVE GESTURE
Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the expulsions a “provocative gesture”. A Kremlin spokesman said the West was making a “mistake” and that President Vladimir Putin would make a final decision about Russia’s response.

Moscow has denied being behind the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the southern English city of Salisbury. Skripal, 66, and Yulia Skripal, 33, were found unconscious on a public bench in a shopping center on March 4 and remain critically ill in hospital.

“We assess that more than 130 people in Salisbury could have been potentially exposed to this nerve agent,” May said.

The wave of expulsions followed EU leaders saying last week that evidence presented by May of Russian involvement in the attack was a solid basis for further action.

The staff expelled by Washington includes 12 people identified by the United States as intelligence officers from Russia’s mission to the United Nations headquarters in New York. They were involved in activities outside their official capacity and an abuse of their privileges of residence, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said.

Russian U.N. ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called it “a very unfortunate, very unfriendly move”.

The envoys and their families have been given a week to leave the United States, according to one U.S. official. Australia has issued the same deadline to its expelled diplomats.

Skripal’s poisoning, which Britain said employed the Soviet-era military-grade nerve agent Novichok, is the first known offensive use of a nerve toxin in Europe since World War Two.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Russia  |  US  |  EU  |  UK  |  spies  |  diplomats  |  attack

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