BRUSSELS, April 4. /TASS/. Foreign Minister of Belgium Didier Reynders has expressed his regret over the Russian authorities’ decision to expel one of the Belgium diplomats as a response to an earlier expulsion of a Russian diplomat from Belgium, the country’s Foreign Ministry said in its statement on Wednesday.
"This decision was notified this morning to the Belgian Embassy in Russia (Moscow)," the statement said. "The Minister regrets this decision from Russia."
"It follows the expulsion of a Russian diplomat by the Belgian government last week," according to the statement. "The Belgian diplomat will have to leave Russia within 14 days."
The case of poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Skripal in the United Kingdom early last month prompted a series of expulsions of Russian diplomats from a number of countries. Russia responded by expelling Western diplomats in return.
On March 4, former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and was later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, the UK. Police said they had allegedly been exposed to a nerve agent.
London immediately accused Russia of being involved, but failed to produce any evidence. British Prime Minister Theresa May rushed to blame Russia for "unlawful use of force" against her country. She identified the alleged substance used in the attack as the so-called Novichok nerve agent, allegedly developed in the former Soviet Union.
Subsequently, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow. Russia has flatly rejected these allegations pointing out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia had any programs to develop that substance.
In response, Moscow expelled the equal number of UK diplomats. In addition, Britain’s consulate in St. Petersburg was ordered to be closed and the British Council’s operations in Russia were terminated. Later on, the Russian foreign ministry demanded the overall number of the British diplomatic personnel at the embassy in Moscow and consulates general across Russia be equalized with the number of Russian diplomats and technical staff working in the United Kingdom.
In late March, a number of states, including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and a number of other European countries, expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats in all in a show of solidarity with London’s stance. Last week, the Russian foreign ministry announced tit-for-tat measures against these countries.