Russia retaliates by expelling two Albanian diplomats

Russian & Albanian Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov and Ditmir Bushati

Tirana, March 31 (Tirana Echo) – Russia has expelled two Albanian diplomats in retaliation to Tirana’s decision last week to expel two Russian diplomats as part of a wider EU and NATO en-block expulsion of Russian diplomats.

The expulsion of the two Albanian diplomats is part of a wider expulsion of western diplomats by Moscow following the decision by 23 countries to expel Russian diplomats in solidarity with the UK, which blames Russia for the usage of a nerve gas agent against former Russian Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on British soil. Russia denies any involvement but the UK says it has substantial evidence the nerve agent was manufactured and used by the Russian state.

Ambassadors from Albania, Australia, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine were told to send home staff from their missions – corresponding to the same number of Russians their countries had expelled.

The Russian foreign ministry said that Russia “has the right to take retaliatory measures” against Belgium, Hungary, Georgia and Montenegro, countries that had joined the coordinated action against Russia “at the last moment”.

Albania’s Ambassador Mr. Arben Gazioni was presented yesterday by the Russian Foreign Ministry a ‘Non-Grata’ verbal note for two diplomats to leave Moscow.

Albania’s Foreign Ministry responded in a statement that “Russia’s reaction does not come as a surprise. Our decision to expel two Russian diplomats was in line with our strategic allies and proportional towards the Salisbury chemical attack. We emphasize that our diplomatic channels remain open at the service of constructive bilateral relations, peace and security.

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