North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to announce 'measures' over United Kingdom poisoning: statement

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday that NATO's expulsion of Russian diplomats showed the alliance was still relevant, adding that Moscow had the potential to be a partner with Europe but had chosen a different path.

The Nato official said the latest action was "a clear and very strong message that there was a cost to Russia's reckless actions" in poisoning the agent earlier this month.

They remain in critical condition after exposure to a nerve agent, which, according to the British authorities, could have originated from Russian Federation.

Russian has denied involvement and has vowed counter measures in response to the various diplomatic expulsions, which Moscow has largely blamed on Washington.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday called the US decision, as well as similar moves by other Western governments this month, "a colossal blackmail campaign".

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will cut the staff of Russia's permanent mission at its headquarters from 30 to 20 people.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were admitted to a hospital on March 4 after being found unconscious in the southern English city of Salisbury. "We'll respond, have no doubt".

Russian Federation has denied any involvement.

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On March 26, more than 20 countries announced their intention to expel Russian diplomats in solidarity with Britain because of the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.

The European countries that are non-EU member states are as follows: Ukraine (13), Albania (2), Macedonia (1) and Norway (1).

In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, hinted the Kremlin would respond with tit-for-tat expulsions, saying Russian Federation would proceed from the "principle of reciprocity".

A removal van was seen outside the Russian embassy in London on Tuesday, as Moscow is awaiting almost two dozen Russian diplomats ordered to leave Britain as part of a standoff over a nerve agent attack on British soil.

In total, 16 European Union countries have expelled Russian diplomats.

A number of countries including the United States said the Russian diplomats they were throwing out were actually undeclared spies.

The Prime Minister added: "It is also important to note that our partners are not only taking these measures out of solidarity with the United Kingdom, but also because they recognise the threat that these Russian networks pose to the security of their own countries and the pattern of Russian aggression which has affected us all".


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