Russia responds quid pro quo to diplomats' expulsions
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia today responded quid pro quo to the wave of Western expulsions of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in Britain, while a hospital treating the pair said the woman is improving rapidly and is out of critical condition.
Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious and critically ill in the English city of Salisbury on March 4. British authorities blamed Russia for poisoning them with a military-grade nerve agent, accusations Russia has vehemently denied.
Two dozen countries, including the U.S., many EU nations and NATO, have ordered more than 150 Russian diplomats out this week in a show of solidarity with Britain – a massive action unseen even at the height of the Cold War.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at news conference today Moscow will expel the same number of diplomats from each of those countries in retaliation.
Lavrov added that just as he was making the statement, U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman was invited to the Foreign Ministry, where he was handed notice that Russia is responding quid pro quo to the U.S. decision to order 60 Russian diplomats out.
Lavrov said Moscow will also retaliate to the U.S. decision to shut the Russian consulate in Seattle by closing the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg.
The Foreign Ministry said the U.S. diplomats, including 58 diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and two from the U.S. consulate in Yekaterinburg, must leave Russia by April 5. It added that the U.S. must leave the consulate in St. Petersburg no later than Saturday.