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Moldova's leader slams government’s decision to expel Russian diplomats as provocation

Earlier on Tuesday, Moldova’s Foreign Ministry took a decision to expel three Russian diplomats, giving them a week to leave the country

CHISINAU, March 27. /TASS/. Moldovan President Igor Dodon has described the government’s decision to expel three Russian diplomats in the wake of the Salisbury incident as a provocation.

"I am indignant at the Moldovan government’s decision to expel Russian diplomats. I categorically condemn this yet another anti-Russian provocation," he told TASS on Tuesday.

He stressed that his country has no allied obligations to the United Kingdom and other NATO member states to take such steps of solidarity.

"I would like to note that a number of NATO member countries, such as Slovakia and Turkey, and a European Union member country - Austria - have refrained from taking part in this collective anti-Russian demarche," Dodon said, adding that candidate to Italian prime minister with the winning coalition, Matteo Salvini, had also slammed the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

"This step looks twice as absurd now after a Moldovan visit by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, when representatives of Moldova’s branches of power spoke for the resumption of normal relations with Moscow," he stressed.

Earlier on Tuesday, Moldova’s Foreign Ministry took a decision to expel three Russian diplomats, giving them a week to leave the country. The ministry said the step had been taken in a show of solidarity with the UK in the wake of the alleged poisoning of the former Russian intelligence officer and British spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury.

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 allegedly been exposed to a nerve agent. Both are in the hospital in a critical condition.

London immediately accused Russia of being involved, but failed to produce any evidence. UK Prime Minister Theresa May blamed Russia for "unlawful use of force" against her country. She identified the alleged substance used in the attack as the Novichok nerve agent, developed in the former Soviet Union. 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 same number of British diplomats from Russia and ordering to close the British Consulate-General in St. Petersburg and shut down the British Council’s offices in Russia.

However Washington announced on Monday its decision to expel 60 Russian diplomats, including 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, demanding they leave the country within a week. Apart from that, it said Russia’s Consulate General in Seattle would be closed.

In a show of solidarity, Canada, Poland and France have decided to expel four diplomats each, Lithuania and the Czech Republic - three each, Australia, Albania, Denmark, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands - two each, Hungary, Latvia, Macedonia, Norway, Romania, Finland, Croatia, Sweden and Estonia - one each, while Ukraine decided to kick out 13 Russian diplomats.