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Russia retaliates as Irish diplomat told: Get out of Moscow

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Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Mick Condren

Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Mick Condren

Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Mick Condren

Russia will expel an Irish diplomat from Moscow in response to the Government's decision to expel a Russian diplomat from Dublin.

Confirming the anticipated move by the Kremlin, the Government branded it "unjustified" and "regrettable".

Earlier this week, Ireland ordered a Russian diplomat to leave the embassy in Rathgar.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Ireland was showing solidarity with the UK in the wake of the Salisbury chemical attack on former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

Neutrality

Yesterday, Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney confirmed Russia had reacted in kind.

"There is no justification for this expulsion," a spokesman for Mr Coveney said.

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Yury Filatov, Ambassador of Russia. Photo: Arthur Carron

Yury Filatov, Ambassador of Russia. Photo: Arthur Carron

Yury Filatov, Ambassador of Russia. Photo: Arthur Carron

"Our staff do not engage in activities which are incompat- ible with their diplomatic status. This decision to expel an Irish diplomat is regrettable."

After taking action against Russia, Mr Varadkar insisted he had not undermined Ireland's long-standing neutrality.

Ireland is "not neutral" when it comes to the use of chemical weapons and cyberterrorism, he said last week.

Sinn Fein heavily criticised the diplomatic sanction imposed by the Taoiseach.

Russia's ambassador to Ireland, Yury Filatov, also criticised the expulsion.

"This kind of decision is totally unwarranted, uncalled for, senseless and regrettable," he said.

Mr Filatov said his colleagues at the Russian embassy in south Dublin have "done nothing illegally".

Speaking in the Dail last week, Mr Varadkar defended himself against accusations that he had gone into "full macho mode" by joining French president Emmanuel Macron to convince EU leaders to take action.

The Taoiseach said Ireland's long-standing neutrality is not under threat.

"We do not join military all- iances, we will not be joining Nato and we will not be part of a European army," he said.

After initially expressing reservations about getting involved in the UK's battle, Fianna Fail backed the Government's move.


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