Russia calls expulsion of diplomats ‘blackmail’

Elena Teslova

MOSCOW: The Russian foreign minister on Tuesday vowed to respond to the expulsion of its diplomats from Europe.

“We will respond, don’t doubt it, such rudeness can’t be endured,” Sergey Lavrov said, talking to journalists on the sidelines of the Tashkent conference on Afghanistan in the Uzbek capital.

This coordinated action shows how insignificant is the number of independent countries in modern Europe and in the world, he added.

“When one or two diplomats are asked to leave the country while whispering us apologies, we know for certain that this is a result of colossal pressure, colossal blackmailing which is now the main tool of Washington in the international affairs,” he said. He compared the situation with the UN vote rejecting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel when the U.S. directly threatened some countries with aid cuts for refusing to tow its line in foreign policy.

“It also reflects the mood of governing elites not to listen to the people’s voice. I saw the results of a poll asking if new sanctions against Russia are needed, more than 80% responded negatively,” he said. Fourteen EU member states have expelled dozens of Russian diplomats in an orchestrated reaction Monday, over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. (AA)