MOSCOW, March 30. /TASS/. “Diplomatic war” waged between the West and Russia over the so-called case Skrobala, received on Friday a logical extension: the ambassadors of several countries that previously announced expulsion of Russian diplomats “in solidarity” with Britain, was summoned to the Ministry of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, where they were told about the response.
The Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on March 29 that Russia is sending 60 employees of American diplomatic missions, and also withdraws consent for the operation of the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg. According to fresh reports, the members already out of the building, furniture and boxes.
Commenting on the expulsion of foreign diplomats from Russia, the press Secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov March 30, reminded that Russia “was forced to take retaliatory steps,” but “remained open to establishing good relations” with the United States and other countries.
Meanwhile, the British media reported that the condition affected 4 Mar poisoning in Salisbury Russian citizen Yulia Skripal is improving rapidly, it can now drink and eat. The victim together with her father Sergei Skripal, a former GRU Colonel and British spy remains in a “critical but stable condition”.
The diplomatic move, taken in response to actions of foreign countries, on Smolensk square announced in the middle of the day on Friday. “March 30, the Russian foreign Ministry called leaders accredited in the Russian Federation, diplomatic missions of several countries that have taken hostile actions against Russia “in solidarity” with Britain over the so-called case Skrobala. Ambassadors will be handed notes of protest and announced the response of the Russian side”, – reported in the Ministry.
This week the main foreign partners of the UK, took for granted the approval of the authorities that Russia allegedly responsible for poisoning Skrobala, in a coordinated action announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats or other steps. The United States decided to expel from 60 Russian diplomats (46 people from the Embassy in Washington, two of the Consulate General in new York, another 12 employees of the permanent mission to the UN declared persona non grata) and to close the Russian Consulate General in Seattle. Germany, Canada, Poland and France decided to send four of the diplomat, Lithuania, Moldova and the Czech Republic – three, Australia, Albania, Denmark, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, two from Belgium, Hungary, Georgia, Ireland, Latvia, Macedonia, Norway, Romania, Finland, Croatia, Montenegro, Sweden and Estonia one by one. Ukraine announced the expulsion of 13 Russian diplomats, and NATO has reduced the mission of the Russian Federation to the organization from 30 to 20 people. The European Union has withdrawn for consultations its Ambassador in Moscow, his example was followed by Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Slovakia.
30 March most caused on the Smolensk area ambassadors chose not to give comments to the press. The German Ambassador to Russia rüdiger von Fritsch did not disclose the contents declared him a response, saying only that Berlin “remains prepared to open dialogue”. He also that “in connection with an incident in Salisbury in the interests of the Russian government to take all possible steps to provide clarity, transparency and to give answers to all questions”.
The Ambassador of the Netherlands in Moscow renée Jones-BOS after the visit of the Russian foreign Ministry reported that it announced the expulsion of two diplomats from Russia as a response to the Hague taken steps. “This is a serious blow, but the Embassy will continue to function,” she said, adding that the work of the diplomatic mission may be “some difficulties”.
Following this, from foreign countries began to receive reports that in respect of their diplomatic missions in Russia was taken ‘mirror’ measures.
New requirements for London
Separately, the foreign Ministry had summoned the British Ambassador in Russia Laurie Bristow, who “declared a strong protest over the provocative and in no way justified the actions of the British side, inspirowana groundless expulsion of Russian diplomats from a number of States.”
“The Ambassador was informed that in response, the British side, in a month must by appropriate reductions in their staff to bring the total number of employees of the British Embassy in Moscow and consulates-General in Russia, in accordance with the number of Russian diplomats and administrative and technical employees who are on extended business trips in the UK,” – said the Russian foreign Ministry.
The Ministry also said that Moscow is ready for a substantive and responsible interaction with London in the framework of international legal formats and mechanisms, and on a bilateral basis in the interests of truth, searching and finding of the persons involved in the incident with the father and daughter Kripalani.
Previously, the UK authorities, groundlessly accusing Russia of involvement in the incident in Salisbury, deported 23 of a Russian diplomat and expressed other anti-Russian measures, after which Moscow has taken retaliatory steps in returning from Russia, a similar number of staff of the British Embassy, instructing to close the Consulate General of Bulgaria in Saint-Petersburg and to stop the activities of the British Council in Russia.
American diplomats are taken things
The evening of 29 March it was announced the expulsion of American diplomats 60 – 58 employees of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and two employees of the Consulate General in Yekaterinburg, they must leave the country before April 5. In addition, prior to 31 March must be stopped the work of the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg.
As the correspondent of TASS from the event, in the middle of the day on 30 March from the building of the diplomatic mission on Furshtatskaya street began to take on the cars that are boxes and pieces of furniture. Thus any advertisements, announcing the imminent closure of the Consulate General, on the door is not posted, the US flag on building at half-mast.
The representative of the MFA of Russia in St. Petersburg Vladimir Zapevalov told TASS that “the Consulate General must release not only the building on Furshtatskaya street, but also the residence of the Consul General in Grodno lane.”
The Consulate General of the United States was opened in Leningrad in 1972, it deals including the issuance of visas and diplomatic support of US citizens. Consular district includes ten subjects of the Russian Federation, encompassing in addition to Saint Petersburg, Arkhangelsk, Vologda, Kaliningrad, Leningrad, Murmansk, Novgorod and Pskov oblasts, Republic of Karelia, and Nenets Autonomous Okrug. According to the U.S. Department of state, Consulate General St. Petersburg in February of this year issued about 2 thousand visas, about 70 percent of the visas for temporary visits for business or tourism purposes.
The closure of the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg significantly affect the visas for Russian citizens, as the situation of their getting a long time was difficult because of the long lines, and tourists prefer to go to the American Consulate in neighboring countries, especially in Estonia and Latvia, told TASS Deputy Director Severo-the Western regional branch of the Russian Union of tourist industry, Pavel Rumyantsev.
Russia – for an objective investigation
Commenting on March 30, the expulsion from Russia of foreign diplomats, the press Secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov emphasized that “Russia has not launched any diplomatic wars”.
“Russia has never initiated sanctions exchanges, exchanges [measures] for the expulsion of diplomats and so on, – he said. – Russia was forced to take retaliatory steps in response to the unfriendly, unconstructive, illegal actions.” “Russia remains open to establishing good relations, we want these relations”, – said Peskov.
The representative of the Kremlin stressed that Russia categorically does not agree with the charges against her baseless accusations of involvement in the poisoning of the father and daughter Skipala and “wants an impartial and objective investigation.” With this purpose, Moscow initiated the convening of an extraordinary session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons (OPCW).
Peskov explained that Russia intends to “more fully utilize the opportunities provided by the organization, because otherwise, unfortunately, our country is deprived of the opportunity to obtain any materials about this case from a country where this incident happened.” According to him, the actual failure of the British authorities to cooperate and provide response to the queries of Moscow “gives grounds for action in the framework of the only competent international organization”.
Earlier, the Russian foreign Minister said that Russia will convene an extraordinary session of the Executive Council of the OPCW in connection with an incident in Salisbury on 4 April.
Improvement of Yulia Skripal
Amid the ongoing diplomatic battles from the UK for the second consecutive day reported a marked improvement in the condition of Yulia Skripal. As has informed on Friday TV channel Sky News, the hospital, a young woman can eat and drink.
Earlier on March 29 broadcasting Corporation Bi-bi-si has informed that Yulia is conscious and can talk. In the district hospital English Salisbury confirmed that her condition is “improving rapidly”, is not assessed as critical and is now stable. The condition of her father remains “critical but stable”.
The Russian Embassy in the UK called the news about improving the health of Yulia Skripal “good news” and demanded to grant her consular access. “Good news: Julia Skripal reportedly safely recovering. We insist on the right to see it in accordance with the Consular Convention of 1968 (between the USSR and the United Kingdom),” – said a diplomatic mission on his Twitter page.
Improvement of Yulia Skripal casts doubt on the version of London that really happened in Salisbury, told the TASS program Director of the club “Valdai”, programme Director, Russian Council for international Affairs Ivan Timofeev.
“Received the news that Yulia Skripal better. This should allow for a more objective investigation,” he expressed hope. “In addition, the question immediately arises whether it was such a toxic tool as a so-called “Beginner”, from the impact of these funds is usually the consequences are more dire,” – said the expert.
In Russian social networks earlier, there were reports that on March 7, three days after the incident in Salisbury, Julia came into your account in a social network “Vkontakte”. Official confirmation of these reports do not exist.