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European nations follow Britain's lead and expel Russian diplomats after ex-spy poisoning

(From L) French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May talk as they attend an European Union leaders summit, on June 22, 2017, at the European Council in Brussels.
EMMANUEL DUNAND | AFP | Getty Images
(From L) French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May talk as they attend an European Union leaders summit, on June 22, 2017, at the European Council in Brussels.

Several Western countries expelled Russian diplomats in a mark of solidarity with Britain over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter.

The EU member states have agreed to take punitive measures against Russia for the nerve-agent attack on the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. Both have been in critical condition in hospital since being found unconscious in southwest England at the start of the month.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump ordered 60 Russians from the U.S. on Monday. The move follows hot on the heels of the U.K.'s decision to expel Russian diplomats after the country determined the Kremlin was responsible for the poisonings. In a tit-for-tat move, Moscow will also expel at least 60 staff from U.S. diplomatic missions in Russia.

A total of 14 EU member states decided to expel their Russian diplomats Monday, according to European Council President Donald Tusk, including the likes of Germany, France and Poland. Ukraine also expelled 13 Russian diplomats, announcing the move at the same time as the EU nations.

Ahead of the joint announcement, Britain said it would welcome the public support from the EU. A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday that the bloc's forthcoming response would be "very positive."

Moscow warning

Russia has denied responsibility for the attack, while the Kremlin has already retaliated to Britain's expulsion of Russian diplomats by ordering out the same number of Britons.

While Britain and its allies have dismissed diplomats, some analysts are unconvinced on whether anything further could be announced. When asked whether he thought Britain would impose new sanctions against Russian businesses in the wake of the Skripal poisoning, Maximilian Hess, political risk analyst at AKE Group , replied: "No, I think it is relatively unlikely … At least initially."

"I think we are going to see moves like potentially further diplomatic expulsions in the U.S. and other EU countries as signs of support," but the prospect of Westminster implementing targeted sanctions against Moscow is not probable, Hess added.