North Atlantic Treaty Organisation expels Russian diplomats in response to United Kingdom attack

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The NATO has also reduced the maximum size of Russia's Mission to NATO by 10 people, bringing it down to 20, Stoltenberg added.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in a conference here, announced the organisation was cutting the size of its Russian mission by a third, removing accreditation of seven Russian staff members and rejecting three other pending applications.

He said the move was intended the show Vladimir Putin's regime "that there are costs and consequences for its unacceptable and risky pattern of behaviour".

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that Russia ever even manufactured the poison that was used in the attack on Skripal, a claim since disputed by several former Soviet scientists.

Governments across Europe, the United States and beyond announced plans on Monday to expel more than 100 Russian diplomats in retaliation for the attack.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier in the day claimed the United States had used "colossal blackmail" to force European and other western powers to expel Russian diplomats, and promised Moscow would respond harshly to the expulsion of over 100 diplomats worldwide.

On March 4, British intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia were exposed to a poisonous substance.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation withdrew accreditation for seven staff members at Russia's mission to the alliance on Tuesday in response to a nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent in England.


Moscow has denied any involvement in the incident.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the mass expulsions were "a blow from which Russian intelligence will need many years to recover".

"I welcome the global support that we have garnered", she said.

On Monday, European Council President Donald Tusk announced in Varna, Bulgaria, that 14 European Union (EU) member states had made a decision to expel Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.

Commenting on the move, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that anti-Russian measures introduced over Skripal case demonstrate how few independent countries remain in the modern world.

The list includes 22 European countries including Britain itself which led the way by expelling 23 diplomats.

It responded to Britain's expulsions with its own, and the closure of the British Council cultural organisation - and on Tuesday promised it would hit back against the coordinated moves.

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