Saturday 15 December 2018

Spy poisoning case: Russian diplomat expected to be expelled here today

  • Single Russian diplomat expected to be expelled from Ireland today
  • Move as part of Europe-wide solidarity being show with the UK
  • Russia's Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov warns that any expulsions would be viewed as an 'unfriendly action'
  • Trump administration yesterday said 60 diplomats would be expelled
  • LATEST: Australia expels Russian diplomats overnight
Sergei and Julia Skripal
Sergei and Julia Skripal
Yulia and Sergei Skripal were poisoned in the UK
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A single Russian diplomat is expected to be expelled from Ireland as part of the Europe-wide solidarity being shown with the UK.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney will brief the Cabinet today on an 'options paper' compiled by gardaí and the Defence Forces.

Sources say he will recommend that Ireland follow 18 countries, including the United States, Germany and France, by taking action against Moscow.

The move will be met with swift retaliation from the Kremlin, which denies any involvement in the poisoning of an ex-spy Sergei Skripal on British soil earlier this month.

Russia's Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov has already warned that any expulsions would be viewed as an "unfriendly action".

The Irish Independent understands the Russian embassy in south Dublin has had no contact from the Department of Foreign Affairs yet, but is on stand-by.

Close to death: Yulia Skripal and her father Sergei
Close to death: Yulia Skripal and her father Sergei

Officially Russia has 17 accredited diplomats based in Ireland along with an unknown number of support staff.

By contrast, Ireland has just nine diplomats in Moscow.

A wave of co-ordinated action by EU and Nato countries yesterday was the biggest Western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.

Warning of an "unacceptably high" number of Russian spies in the US, the Trump administration said 60 diplomats would be expelled - all said to be Russian intelligence agents working under diplomatic cover.

A vehicle of interest wrapped in blue tarpaulin is removed from Larkhill Road in Durrington, Salisbury, on the back of an Army lorry, as the investigation into the suspected nerve agent attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia continues. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
A vehicle of interest wrapped in blue tarpaulin is removed from Larkhill Road in Durrington, Salisbury, on the back of an Army lorry, as the investigation into the suspected nerve agent attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia continues. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The EU states telling Russian diplomats to leave their countries are: Germany (4), France (4), Poland (4), Lithuania (3), Czech Republic (3), Denmark (2), Italy (2), Spain (2), Netherlands (2), Estonia (1), Romania (1), Croatia (1), Finland (1) and Latvia (1).

Meanwhile, Australia has become the latest country to expel Russian diplomats in a show of support for Britain over the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

Yulia Skripal. Photo: AP
Yulia Skripal. Photo: AP

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called it a "disgraceful" and "brazen" attack and said his country "cannot and will not stand by and watch when the sovereignty of our allies and partners is threatened".

Earlier, Mr Turnbull and minister for foreign affairs Julie Bishop issued a joint statement saying two Russian diplomats identified as "undeclared intelligence officers" would be directed to leave the country within seven days.

Ireland previously ordered a Russian official to leave the State in 2011 following an investigation into the use of false Irish passports by Russian spies based in the US.

However, relations have been mostly benign in the interim, although trade has fallen significantly in recent years due to a tit-for-tat sanctions war at EU level as a result of Russian military action in Crimea.

Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in a critical condition after they were poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury on March 4.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Russia had "spectacularly failed" in efforts to "divide and intimidate the Western alliance".

She also claimed to have evidence that Russia has investigated ways of distributing nerve agents for assassinations.

Irish Independent

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