MOSCOW, March 26. /TASS/. NATO is behind the actions of the European Union, using baculine discipline and seeking to demonize Russia, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Monday.
"The baculine discipline in the European Union <…>. We know it only too well who is behind the European Union: NATO is behind the European Union," she said in an interview with the 60 Minutes program on the Rossiya-1 television channel. "The European Union is an attractive political construct, with the powerful North Atlantic Alliance being behind it."
"The task was to demonize Russia and what we are witnessing now is part of a long-term program of unbridled Russophobia. It is a matter of not only Russia as a country, it is a matter of Russians and the Russian people," she said.
Earlier on Monday, a number of European countries, including France, Germany, Poland, the Baltic states, and Ukraine, as well as the United States and Canada announced their decision to expel about 100 Russian diplomats in all in the wake of the incident with poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom.
On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and exchanged for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury. Police said they had been exposed to a nerve agent. Both are in the hospital in a critical condition.
The UK accused Russia of being involved, but failed to produce any evidence. UK Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of "unlawful use of force" against her country. She identified the substance used in the attack as a Novichok nerve agent, developed in the former Soviet Union. London expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow.
Russia has rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia. In response to the UK’s steps, 23 British diplomats were expelled from Russia, Britain’s consulate in St. Petersburg was closed and the British Council’s operations in Russia were terminated. Furthermore, Moscow pointed out that further measures could be taken "should there be any more hostile actions against Russia."