In total, European countries, the USA, Canada and Ukraine send more than 100 Russian diplomats.
A number of EU countries refused to expel Russian diplomats, despite the pressure of London, which without any evidence, accused Moscow of involvement in the poisoning of former Colonel GRU Sergei Skripal. Some of the states that did not go to confrontation with Russia, spoke in favor of continuing the dialogue with Moscow, while others directly pointed to the lack of evidence of Russia's involvement in the Salisbury incident.
The decision on the mass expulsion of Russian diplomats, announced by 26 in March, was taken by the countries of Europe, the USA, Canada and Ukraine. In total, these unfriendly steps touched more than 100 Russian diplomats, and 60 of them - only in the US.
One of the countries that did not join anti-Russian measures was Belgium. Her prime minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, previously stated that his country does not intend to recall the ambassador from Russia within the framework of unilateral measures of the EU states. "We expressed our solidarity with Great Britain, we intend to coordinate our national measures, but I also believe that it is necessary to maintain a dialogue with Russia, retaining the ambassador, as does the United Kingdom itself, which does not withdraw the ambassador from Moscow," he said.
He also blocked at the EU summit 22-23 March the decision to expel Russian diplomats from the EU from Brussels. According to the newspaper Le Soir, as an "ideal response gesture" was invited to send a group of Russian diplomats from the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the European Union. However, the Prime Minister of Belgium stated that his country "can not bear the burden of the EU's diplomatic response alone", since all foreign diplomats with international organizations headquartered in Brussels are formally accredited in Belgium.
As a result of the EU summit, Michel noted that the countries of the community agreed to coordinate national responses in connection with the "case of the Skrypal". At the same time, he pointed out that "it is necessary to maintain a dialogue with Russia, retaining the ambassador, as does the United Kingdom itself, which does not recall the ambassador from Moscow."
After the announcement of the expulsion of Russian diplomats by a number of European countries, Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurtz said that his country, on the contrary, expects to maintain channels of communication with Russia and is not going to expel employees of Russian diplomatic missions.
"We support a clear declaration of the European Council and the decision to withdraw the EU ambassador from Russia, but as a neutral country, we will not expel any diplomats, moreover, we want a bridge between East and West, and channels for communication with Russia remained open, "Kurtz said.
Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Knaisl noted that the UK and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had not yet provided 27% of evidence of Russia's involvement in the case of Sergei Skripal, therefore Austria currently adheres to the refusal to expel. The experts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have been working in London for almost eight days, an investigation is underway and no 100% of evidence has been submitted yet that Russia is related to this case, "Knyazl said on the air of the O-100 radio station , answering the question whether Austria is ready to remain the only country that does not expel Russian diplomats.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras 23 March also said that the EU should keep open channels of dialogue with Russia. "We discussed European-Russian relations at the summit [the EU in Brussels], which are particularly complex after the assassination in Salisbury," the prime minister said. "I stressed that this case should be investigated as soon as possible and in cooperation with Russia."
"I pointed out that we must be resolute in this matter," added Tsipras. "At the same time, I stressed the need to always maintain channels of dialogue with Russia, we must leave the window open and complete the investigation of the relevant international organization before making final conclusions" . According to him, when Greece talks about the need to maintain a dialogue far from the logic of the Cold War, she adheres to this.
Prime Minister of Slovakia Peter Pellegrini, speaking at the meeting of the National Council of Slovakia, 26 March, said that to expel Russian diplomats from the country in connection with the Skripal case, there are few accusations that are not based on solid facts.
"Slovakia will not yield only to the conviction that the attack [on Skripal] is Russia," he said. "We will not rush [expel Russian diplomats]," the prime minister said, "the expulsion of diplomats was supported by 16 from 28 states of the European Union." They did not take such a step in 12 countries, so we are not alone. "
In turn, the Foreign Ministry of the presidency of the EU Council of Bulgaria also noted that the authorities of the country do not intend to expel Russian diplomats because of the "case of Skripal". In addition, the official representative of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus in the rank of Minister Prodromos Prodromu also said 26 March that the country will not expel Russian diplomats.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has already stated that an unfriendly move on the part of the countries that have decided to expel Russian diplomats will not remain unanswered. In a statement circulated by the ministry on Monday, "a strong protest was expressed in connection with the decision taken by a number of EU and NATO member states to expel Russian diplomats." "We consider this step as unfriendly and not meeting the tasks and interests of establishing the causes and searching for the perpetrators of the incident that occurred 4 March in Salisbury," the statement said.
4 March 66-year-old Skripal, convicted in Russia for espionage in favor of the UK, and his daughter 33-year-old Julia were exposed in Salisbury, according to the British side, to the effects of a nerve agent. Later, London issued a statement that this substance was allegedly being developed in Russia, and on this basis accused Moscow of involvement in the incident. The Russian side categorically rejected all the speculation on this score, pointing out that there was no development program for such a substance either in the USSR or in Russia. Without showing any evidence, London expelled the Russian diplomat from the country and announced other anti-Russian measures, after which Moscow took retaliatory steps, sending a similar number of British embassy employees from the Russian Federation, ordering the British consulate in St. Petersburg to close the British Council in Russia .