Monday

24th Sep 2018

Eight more Russians sent packing from Belgium

  • Vladimir Chizhov (r) tainted with suspicion in 2009 when Nato expelled his son for espionage (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Eight more Russian diplomats are to be sent packing from Belgium and one from Ireland, but Russia's EU envoy is to stay in place.

The Belgian tally included seven to be expelled from Russia's mission to Nato, which is located in Brussels, and one from Russia's embassy to Belgium.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Varadkar said Ireland "not neutral one bit" when it comes to assassinations (Photo: Annika Haas (EU2017EE))

"Russia has underestimated the unity of Nato allies," Nato head Jens Stoltenberg said, announcing the move, which came in response to Russia's attempt to kill a former spy in England using a chemical weapon earlier this month.

"It sends a very clear message to Russia that it [its UK attack] has costs," he added.

The Belgian prime minister's office said it was committed to an "open and frank dialogue" with Moscow despite its move.

The Irish leader, Leo Varadkar, said the same day that he had expelled a Russian diplomat despite his country's history of neutrality in European conflicts.

"When it comes to terrorism, assassinations, the use of chemical weapons and cyberterrorism, we are not neutral one bit," he said.

"We are joined with other neutral countries including Finland and Sweden, who have taken the same course of action as us," he added.

Ireland's decision stood in contrast to Austria's, which boycotted the EU expulsions on grounds of neutrality.

Tuesday's expulsions follow more sweeping ones by EU and Nato states on Monday.

They bring to 18 the number of EU states that did so, while nine have opted not to go ahead citing various reasons.

The Belgian move was also quite minimalist, given that it had the power to expel any of the 140 or so Russian diplomats accredited at Russia's Belgian, Nato, and EU missions.

The EU also had the right to take away its accreditation to Russian diplomats in the EU mission.

But both Belgium and the EU opted to leave in place Vladimir Chizhov, Russia's ambassador to the EU, who was tainted with suspicion of espionage activity back in 2009 when Nato expelled his son, Vasily Chizhov, for spying.

Many of the EU and Nato states who expelled Russian diplomats did so on grounds they were expelling spies who posed a security treat.

Many of the Russians accredited as diplomats in Belgium are in fact spies, the then Belgian intelligence chief told EUobserver back in 2012.

The diplomatic expulsions have prompted some surprises.

On Tuesday, the normally Russia-friendly US president Donald Trump called his counterparts in France and Germany and "praised" their tough action on the UK incident.

Slovakia, normally a staunch Nato ally, has refused to expel anyone, prompting its president, Andrei Kiska, to ask the government, also on Tuesday, why it did not "express solidarity with our important ally."

British prime minister Theresa May said the same day the EU ought to consider more "long-term" measures also.

Her comments comes amid debate in the UK, Denmark, and Sweden whether to introduce targeted financial sanctions against Kremlin cronies via so-called Magnitsky Acts, named after a late Russian anti-corruption activist.

The list of EU states who opted for expulsions include: Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

Those who did not include: Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Australia, Canada, Macedonia, Moldova, Norway, Ukraine, and the US also joined the EU, covering more than 100 Russians, in what amounted to the largest collective expulsion of its kind in history.

Spy row may undermine Russia's EU ambassador

An escalating spy dispute between Nato and Russia could have a direct impact on EU-Russia relations by undermining the work of Moscow's ambassador to the union.

EU wants continental free-trade deal with Africa

Earlier this week, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in his state of the union announced a new relationship with Africa. On Friday, his subordinates outlined the vision, promising jobs and growth by leveraging public funds for investments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  2. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  3. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  4. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  5. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  6. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  7. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  8. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us