Foreign Affairs Minster Chrystia Freeland says the diplomats have been declared “person non grata” by the Russian government. (Canadian Press)

Four Canadian diplomats expelled from Russia

Situation escalates over the alleged poisoning of a former spy and his daughter earlier this month

Global Affairs Canada says four Canadian diplomats have been expelled from Russia as the dispute between the Kremlin and the West escalates over the alleged poisoning of a former spy and his daughter earlier this month.

In an email Friday, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minster Chrystia Freeland says the diplomats have been declared “person non grata” by the Russian government and efforts were underway for those affected to return to Canada.

The move comes after Freeland announced Monday the expulsion of four Russian diplomats from Canada as the U.S. and more than a dozen European allies took similar actions against dozens of Russian diplomats in their own countries.

On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow summoned the U.S. ambassador to announce the expulsion of 60 U.S. diplomats in a tit-for-tat response to Washington’s move.

Nearly two dozen ambassadors from other countries followed suit Friday.

The expulsions follow the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the British city of Salisbury on March 4 by what has been described as a military-grade nerve agent.

A hospital treating the Skripals said Thursday that 33-year-old Yulia was improving rapidly and is now in stable condition, although her 66-year-old father remained in critical condition.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the attack on Skripal, who served as a double agent for British intelligence before he was arrested by Russian authorities and later transferred to the United Kingdom in a spy swap.

But western governments have nonetheless blamed Russia for what Freeland has described as a “despicable, heinous and reckless act, potentially endangering the lives of hundreds.”

Meanwhile, the expulsions affect not only the diplomats, but their families as well, forcing them to take their children out of school in the middle of the year.

“The well-being of Global Affairs Canada employees is our priority,” Adam Austen, Freeland’s press secretary, said in a statement to The Canadian Press. “We will be making every effort to support those affected and their families with their return to Canada.”

Austen added that Canada’s decision to expel the Russian officials earlier in the week was done “in solidarity with our close ally, the United Kingdom.”

“This action was in no way aimed at the Russian people, with whom Canada has long and fruitful ties,” he said. “Canada remains committed to dialogue and co-operation with Russia on issues where we face common challenges.”

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a Toronto news conference that Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to answer for Russia’s role in the nerve gas attack. The next day, the Russian embassy tweeted its response, accusing Trudeau of using confrontational and unproductive rhetoric.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Short list for new gnome home includes Parksville, Coombs

Five potential locations have been chosen by Howard’s owners who will decide Tuesday

Parksville’s mystery cowboy revealed

Kevin Gourlay’s horse garners attention for being ‘parked’ outside a liquor store

Qualicum man sentenced for tying up, robbing another man

Gabriel Stephen Nelson robbed and assaulted travelling businessman in 2017

Parksville man ‘parks’ horse during liquor store pit stop

As long as animal wasn’t jaywalking, no problem, says city official

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Abbotsford homeless advocate says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

B.C. public insurance includes funding enforcement, driver licensing

B.C., feds accused of ‘environmental racism’ over Site C, Mount Polley

Amnesty International Canada says governments failed to recognize threats to Indigenous peoples

New Leger polls suggests federal Liberals lagging Conservatives

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals

Number of homeless deaths more than doubled in B.C. as opioid crisis set in

New data shows trend between more overdose deaths and the number of people dying in the street

Four people spat on in ‘random, unprovoked’ assaults: Vancouver police

Police ask additional victims to come forward after woman in a wheelchair spat on

Most Read