In the wake of the recent nerve agent attack against former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, England on March 4, more than 20 western allies have expelled Russian diplomats from their soil in recent weeks.
According to The Guardian, this is “the biggest concerted blow to Russian intelligence networks in the west since the cold war”.
The attack on March 4th, which left 48 people hospitalized, was carried out using a military-grade nerve-agent known as Novichok, which was developed by the Russian state.
UK government officials said that 131 people were potentially exposed to the nerve agent, though none of those have shown symptoms.
Now, Yulia Skripal, 33, is now in a stable condition after having previously been in critical condition. Her father still remains in critical condition. He had previously been jailed by Russia after being accused of being a British spy.
Initially, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats from Britain, and Russia did the same to British diplomats in their country. The rest of Europe followed Britian’s suit. In the wake of the attacks, according to Al Jazeera: “fourteen European Union countries have taken a decision to expel Russian diplomats, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council said on Monday.”
The United States also expelled Russian officials from their country, in a move Raj Shah, White House spokesperson, described as, “an important message to send to Russia and significant to degrading their intelligence capabilities.” Russia reciprocated.
Prime Minister Teresa May said: “I have found great solidarity from our friends and partners in the EU, North America, Nato and beyond over the past three weeks as we have confronted the aftermath of the Salisbury incident. And together we have sent a message that we will not tolerate Russia’s continued attempts to flout international law and undermine our values.”
She added: “If the Kremlin’s goal is to divide and intimidate the western alliance, then their efforts have spectacularly backfired.”