The Federal Foreign Office today (26 March) ordered four Russian diplomats to leave the Federal Republic of Germany within seven days. Russia’s ambassador in Berlin was informed of the decision in the afternoon. Prior to this, the German Government had held intensive discussions with its EU and NATO partners. The expulsions are part of a joint reaction to the poison attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in the UK. “Attacks on our closest partners will not go unanswered,” the Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson said.
By the afternoon, 14 EU member states had ordered Russian diplomats to leave. Last week, the EU Foreign Ministers discussed the investigation into the attack. According to the Ministers, the UK Government’s investigation concluded that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible, and that there is no plausible alternative explanation.
Russia must live up to its responsibility
“To date, the Russian Government has not answered any of the unresolved questions and has shown no willingness to play a constructive role in clarifying the circumstances of the attack,” Foreign Minister Maas said. He went on to say that there clearly must be consequences. “We continue to call upon Russia to live up to its responsibility and to fulfil its obligation to investigate the attack.” Germany is demanding that Russia address the questions raised by the UK, and that it disclose the Novichok poison gas programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Willing to engage in dialogue
The Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson said that a further reason behind the expulsion was the cyber attack on the German Government’s IT network, which most likely was steered from within Russia. Foreign Minister Maas emphasised that, despite the decisive reaction, Germany remains open to constructive dialogue.