Russia expels four Canadian diplomats
Ottawa, Mar 31 (IBNS): Russia has expelled four Canadian diplomats as the dispute between the Moscow Kremlin and the West over the poisoning of an ex-spy in Salisbury, United Kingdom (U.K.) continues, Global Affairs Canada said on Saturday, media reports said.
In an email to media, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said they are making their efforts to help diplomats return to their country.
The development came after Canada had decided to expel four Russian diplomatic staff, posted at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ottawa on the same issue.
On Mar 28, Freeland said in a statement, "The four have been identified as intelligence officers or individuals who have used their diplomatic status to undermine Canada's security or interfere in our democracy."
Theresa May, British Prime Minister had reportedly said her government had concluded that that Russia was probably responsible for the attack on Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter in Salisbury.
Canada's decision, Freeland said, was in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and on Consular Relations as well as diplomatic action taken by the U.S. and several European Union (EU) nations.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump had reportedly discussed over phone on Monday and said measures taken by Canada and the United States were to support their common ally against Russia in response to the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.
The U.S. administration sent a message on Monday to Russia's leaders that it would be expelling 60 Russian diplomats and ordering the closure of Russia's consulate in Seattle in response to the attack.
This action was condemned by Russia, who threatened to retaliate against Canada.
A statement by Russian embassy in Ottawa was issued on Twitter saying that Canada's decision was both "deplorable and outrageous."
Freeland stated that Canada was "taking these measures in solidarity with the United Kingdom,"
"For national security reasons I can't get into that," Canada's Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said.
Piotr Dutkiewicz, a professor and Russian foreign relations expert at Carleton University, warned that Canada was jeopardizing its relations with Russia especially in matters touching on the Arctic.
(Reporting by Suman Das)