Canada is expelling four Russian diplomats over the nerve agent attack on an ex-spy in Salisbury, U.K.The action will cover seven Russian personnel in all, including four members of Russia’s diplomatic staff posted at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ottawa or the consulate in Montreal.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in a statement said, “The four have been identified as intelligence officers or individuals who have used their diplomatic status to undermine Canada’s security or interfere in our democracy.”
Three applications by the Russian government for additional diplomatic staff in Canada will now be denied.
Freeland called the March 4 attack on a close ally and partner of Canada “a despicable, heinous and reckless act” that potentially endangered the lives of hundreds.The steps have been taken pursuant to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, she said.
Freeland in the release said, “We are taking these measures in solidarity with the United Kingdom.These measures are not aimed at the Russian people, with whom Canadians have long and fruitful ties. Canada remains committed to dialogue and co-operation with Russia on issues where we face common challenges.”
“The nerve agent attack represents a clear threat to the rules-based international order and to the rules that were established by the international community to ensure chemical weapons would never again destroy human lives.”
Freeland cited a “wider pattern of unacceptable behaviour” by Russia, that also includes complicity with the Assad regime in Syria, the annexation of Crimea, Russian-led fighting in eastern Ukraine, support for civil strife in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and other neighbouring countries, interference in elections, and disinformation campaigns.