Friday 25 September 2020

The Netherlands to expel two Russian diplomats over British nerve gas attack

The Netherlands is to expel two Russian diplomats as part of Europe’s reaction to the nerve gas attack on two Russians in England, foreign minister Stef Blok and home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren told parliament on Monday.

‘In light of the conclusions of the European Council, the cabinet has decided, in close consultation with allies and parters, that two Russian diplomats will be expelled in the short term,’ the ministers said in a statement. ‘They will have to leave the Netherlands within two weeks.’

Several other European countries are taking similar measures and the Netherlands will continue to monitor the situation closely, the statement said. Russia has denied any inolvement in the nerve gas attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

RTL commentator Frits Wester said the Dutch move is a considerable step. ‘The cabinet would appear to be convinced by the British evidence and that Russia is behind the attacks,’ he said.

‘This will on exacerbate the tensions between Russia and the Netherlands and will, for example, not help efforts to find out the truth about what happened to MH17.’

The relationship between the Netherlands and Russia has been strained for some time. Last December, home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren said the Russian security services are trying to influence public opinion in the Netherlands by spreading fake news.

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