Tirana, March 26 (Tirana Echo) – Albania has expelled two Russian diplomats as NATO & EU members collectively stand behind the UK in its latest row with Russia over the use of a nerve agent on British soil.
The Albanian move is in line with US, EU, NATO countries who have tonight expelled dozens of Russian diplomats in a strong sign of solidarity with the UK over the attempted murder of ex Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, in Salisbury, UK on 4th March.
Tirana’s decision to expel Russian defence attaché Vladislav Filipov and the Embassy’s first secretary Alexey Nikolaevich Balashov was communicated to the Russian Ambassador today in person.
“Today on 26 March 2018, in the premises of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation H.E.Mr. Alexander Karpushin was called and presented with a verbal note designating two Russian diplomats as ‘Persona Non Gratta’, whose activity did not fit with their diplomatic status,” says a statement on the Albanian Foreign Ministry’s website.
Speaking to Top Channel tonight, Albania’s Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati said: “Albania is a NATO member and candidate for EU membership. Our foreign policy is strongly linked to these organizations and now we have moved on to another stage, that of the coordination of our actions with our NATO allies. This is a coordinated measure with our allies, in response to the latest developments following the UK case.”
Albania’s decision comes as the US, EU, Ukraine and NATO countries have collectively told dozens of Russian diplomats alleged to be spies in the west to return to Moscow, in solidarity with the UK authorities.
British prime minister Theresa May welcomed the move as “the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history”.
“I have found great solidarity from our friends and partners in the EU, North America, NATO and beyond over the past three weeks as we have confronted the aftermath of the Salisbury incident,” British prime minister said today.
Russia has vowed to respond in a proportional manner and the diplomatic conflict seems to spread further. Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on International Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov told Sputnik earlier that “If the United States decides to expel Russian diplomats, the retaliatory measures will be taken immediately.”
The move is the biggest blow to Russia’s diplomatic and intelligence networks in the world since the Cold War.
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