Of the roughly 100 Russian diplomats and officers stationed in Canada, four will now be expelled in retaliation for Russia’s involvement in a chemical attack that left a former double agent and his daughter in critical condition in the U.K. earlier this month.
The announcement came in a statement just hours after the United States and France announced they would also expel dozens of Russian diplomats from their countries in response for the attack.
Russia has repeatedly denied responsibility and instead offered conspiracy theories that the U.K. itself was behind the use of a Soviet military-grade nerve agent, which also injured roughly 30 bystanders in Salisbury, U.K., on March 4.
“The nerve agent attack in Salisbury, on the soil of Canada’s close partner and ally, is a despicable, heinous and reckless act, potentially endangering the lives of hundreds,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in a statement Monday.
“Canada is today taking action against seven Russian personnel. We are expelling four members of Russia’s diplomatic staff, serving either at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada or the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Montréal.”
Freeland said the four had been identified as “intelligence officers or individuals who have used their diplomatic status to undermine Canada’s security or interfere in our democracy.” The other three are Russian staffers who have applied to come to Canada. They will not have their applications approved.
“For similar reasons, three applications by the Russian government for additional diplomatic staff in Canada will now be denied,” she said.
More to come …