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Steps by EU countries on Skripal case aim to up confrontation with Russia — diplomat

The US has also decided to close down the Russian Consulate General in Seattle

MOSCOW, March 26. /TASS/. Steps taken by some EU countries in the wake of alleged poisoning of the former Russian intelligence officer and British spy Sergei Skripal aim to fan confrontation with Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Monday at a meeting with the German ambassador to Russia, Rudiger von Fritsch.

"The Russian side emphasized the absence of evidence and the unacceptability of the European Union's allegations on the incident in Salisbury as much as the steps taken by certain EU countries that aim to fan the confrontation," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a commentary.

"The sides discussed the current status of and the prospects for relations between Russia and the EU, Russia and NATO and cooperation in the format of the OSCE," it said.

On Monday, the US Administration said it was expelling 48 Russian diplomats from diplomatic legations and another twelve diplomats accredited at the Russian mission to the UN in New York.

The US authorities gave seven days to the diplomats to leave. They said the pretext for the expulsion was solidarity with the UK, the Americans’ main ally in Europe. Somewhat earlier, the US rallied with the unsubstantiated British that claims Moscow stood behind the incident involving Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

In addition to it, the US has decided to close down the Russian Consulate General in Seattle.

Germany, Poland, France, and Canada are expelling four diplomats each, the Czech Republic and Lithuania - three diplomats each.

Italy and the Netherlands are expelling two Russian diplomats each, while Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Croatia, and Sweden are expelling one Russian diplomat each.

Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko decided to ride past the hounds and announced the expulsion of thirteen diplomats "in the spirit of solidarity with British partners and trans-Atlantic allies and in coordination with the EU member-states."