Europe News

Over 100 Russian diplomats and counting: The list of countries punishing Moscow after UK poisoning grows

Key Points
  • A growing number of countries around the world have announced measures against Moscow following the nerve agent attack in the U.K. in early March.
  • On Monday, the U.S. surprised the world by going much further than expected, expelling 60 Russians.
  • Russia looks increasingly isolated amid global diplomatic expulsions.
Back row: Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump
Mikhail Metzel TASS via Getty Images

A growing number of countries around the world have announced measures against Moscow following the nerve agent attack in the U.K. in early March, leaving Russia looking increasingly isolated.

On Monday, the U.S. surprised the world by going much further than expected, expelling 60 Russians. Australia followed by expelling two diplomats and adding that it could also boycott the World Cup this summer in Russia.

The mass retaliations against Moscow come after a nerve agent was used to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter that took place on British soil at the start of March. The former spy, and double agent, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in a critical condition in a U.K. hospital.

Britain said the attack bore the hallmarks of a Russian state-orchestrated attack and expelled 23 Russian diplomats, prompting its allies in Europe and beyond to announce similar measures. Russia has denied any involvement in the attack and said the U.K. is "misleading" the world.

After the U.S.' surprise announcement of so many expulsions, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday that the Kremlin would respond "harshly" to the U.S.' decision but was still open to "strategic stability talks with Washington," according to the RIA news agency.

Here's a list of countries that have announced measures against Russia:

UK: Expelled 23 Russians alleged to have worked as spies under diplomatic cover. It also promised to freeze any Russian state assets that "may be used to threaten the life or property of U.K. nationals or residents."
US: Expelling 60 Russians, including 12 intelligence officers from Russia's mission to the UN headquarters in New York. Closing Russian consulate in Seattle.
CANADA: Expelling four Russians alleged to have worked as spies or interfered in Canadian affairs under diplomatic cover. Denying three applications for Russian diplomatic staff.
FRANCE: Expelling four diplomats
GERMANY: Expelling four diplomats
POLAND: Expelling four diplomats
ITALY: Expelling two diplomats
SPAIN: Expelling two diplomats
LITHUANIA: Expelling three diplomats
CZECH REPUBLIC: Expelling three diplomats
CROATIA: Expelling one diplomat
NETHERLANDS: Expelling two diplomats
DENMARK: Expelling two diplomats
NORWAY: Expelling one diplomat
LATVIA: Expelling one diplomat
SWEDEN: Expelling one diplomat
ALBANIA: Expelling two diplomats
ESTONIA: Expelling one diplomat
FINLAND: Expelling one diplomat
HUNGARY: Expelling one diplomat
UKRAINE: Expelling 13 Russian diplomats
ROMANIA: Expelling one diplomat
AUSTRALIA: Expelling 2 Russian diplomats, said it might boycott the soccer World Cup.

The mass global response is being seen as a diplomatic coup for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, with the show of solidarity coming at a time when Britain's role on a global stage is in doubt amid Brexit negotiations. "Together we have sent a message that we will not tolerate Russia's continued attempts to flout international law and undermine our values," May said Monday.

The expulsions come at a time when goodwill towards Russia is running low. The expulsions of Russian diplomats come amid an ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. They also follow its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged role in a pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine, which prompted international sanctions on the country.

Tit for tat

For its part, Russia expelled 23 U.K. diplomats from Russia last week in a "tit for tat" move. But how it will react to other nations is yet to be seen, but analysts believe it will retaliate in turn against those countries.

"This is the largest, coordinated impact since Crimea in 2014 and the largest mutual expulsion of diplomats at least since the (Ronald) Reagan era," Tim Stanley, the senior managing director for Russia/CIS at consultancy Control Risks, told CNBC Tuesday. He noted that "tit-for-tat measures can escalate very quickly."

Vehicles allegedly carrying British diplomats expelled by Russia, leave the British Embassy in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 23, 2018.
AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

"What was clear from (the U.S.) response yesterday (Monday) was that, apart from it being a diplomatic win for (Theresa May) was the fact that the Americans really doubled-down. We could have expected that they would expel a similar number as the U.K. did, but in fact they've gone much further," he said.

"The key here is that, so far, the response from the West has been limited to diplomatic action and we're seeing this tit for tat between the Western partners and Russian side, but what remains to be seen is whether there's going to be a real impact on businesses, and how businesses operating in Russia are going to be able to continue to operate," he said.

- Reuters contributed reporting to this story