Ireland to expel Russian diplomat over United Kingdom nerve agent attack

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Britain has accused Moscow of using the Soviet-developed nerve agent Novichok to poison Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer convicted of spying for the United Kingdom, and his daughter, Yulia, on British soil.

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious in the southern English city of Salisbury.

"Today's extraordinary worldwide response by our allies stands in history as the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers ever & will help defend our shared security", British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Twitter.

Nearly all of the countries said publicly that those being expelled were actually Russians intelligence operatives working under diplomatic cover.

"It goes without saying that this unfriendly act by this group of countries will not go without notice and we will react to it", the government department said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that it would like to expel Russian dipllomats in retaliation for allegedly poisoning Sergei Skripal, only it can't find any Moscow operatives in the remote South Pacific nation.

A total of 14 European Union member states, including France, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, plus Ukraine announced the expulsion of the envoys.

The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives has praised a coordinated reaction by Western allies to the nerve gas attack on a former Russian spy in England.

Washington had already imposed sanctions on Russian citizens and firms for US election meddling and cyber attacks but put off targeting oligarchs and government officials close to Putin.

Riot police crack down on Catalan demonstrators blocking roadways over Puigdemont's arrest
Spain's central government should not "sing victory because it is not the end of separatism, far from it", she added. Protesters wave Spanish and Catalan Senyera flags during a pro-unity demonstration in Barcelona on October 29, 2017.

Britain had evidence Russian Federation has investigated ways of distributing nerve agents for assassinations, May told parliament.

The Kremlin has accused Britain of whipping up an anti-Russia campaign and has sought to cast doubt on the British analysis that Moscow was responsible. Poland's Foreign Minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, called it "the right response to the unfriendly, aggressive actions of Russian Federation".

And the United States warned of an "unacceptably high" number of Russian spies in the USA, describing them as a national security threat.

When the Obama administration expelled 35 diplomats over Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the Russian government told the United States to cut its diplomatic staff inside Russia by 755.

The Russians have been given until April 2 to leave United States territory and close the consulate - although the consul's residence will be left open until April 25.

Denmark, the Netherlands, Latvia, Spain and Italy said they had expelled two diplomats each. "What US Consulate General would you close in @Russia, if it was up to you to decide" tweeted the embassy Monday. The officials weren't authorized to be identified by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

He did not bring up the poisoning attack in his phone call with Putin.

Trump has repeatedly wavered on whether he believes Moscow was behind the election meddling, despite assessments from USA intelligence agencies and the special counsel investigation into Russia's actions and potential collusion with Trump's campaign. Moscow also denies interference in the campaign.

Australia has become the latest country to announce that it is expelling Russian diplomats in response to the recent nerve agent attack on a former Russian military intelligence officer and his daughter in Britain.