Irish diplomat ordered to leave Russia as Moscow retaliates over expulsions

Irish diplomat ordered to leave Russia as Moscow retaliates over expulsions

ONE Irish diplomat has been instructed to leave Russia, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The department confirmed the expulsion, with Tánaiste Simon Coveney describing the move as ‘regrettable’.

“There is no justification for this expulsion,” said Mr Coveney.

“Our staff do not engage in activities which are incompatible with their diplomatic status.

“The decision to expel an Irish diplomat is regrettable.”

The move comes days after Ireland expelled a Russian diplomat in the wake of the Salisbury nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Ireland was one of 29 countries to take such action.

'Unfriendly actions'

Russia has responded in kind, with the Irish diplomat just one of dozens from 23 different countries to be given their marching orders today.

Ambassadors from the countries in question, including Ireland's Adrian McDaid, were called to the Russian Foreign Ministry this morning.

They were instructed to each send home a corresponding number of staff to that of Russians expelled from their respective countries.

Moscow said this was in response to "unfriendly actions against Russia 'in solidarity' with the United Kingdom in the Skripal case".

"They [the ambassadors] were handed notes of protest and told that the Russian Federation declares persona non grata the relevant number of diplomats from these countries working in diplomatic missions in Russia in response to their unjustified expulsions of Russian diplomats based on Britain’s proof-free accusations of Russia related to the Skripal case," a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The United States has bore the brunt of the expulsions, with Moscow yesterday ordering 60 US diplomats to leave and the US consulate in St Petersburg to be closed.