Kremlin says Russia did not initiate ‘any diplomatic war’

Agence France-Presse
Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russia was forced to take retaliatory steps in response to 'hostile and illegal actions' by the United States

DID NOT INITIATE. Russia says it was forced to retaliate after illegal actions by the United States. File photo by AFP

MOSCOW, Russia – The Kremlin said Friday, March 30, it was not Russia that had unleashed a diplomatic war with the West following the mass expulsion of United States envoys in retaliation against coordinated moves by Britain and its allies over a spy poisoning.

“Russia did not unleash any diplomatic war,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. “Russia never initiated any exchange of sanctions.”

“Russia has been forced to take retaliatory steps in response to hostile, illegal actions” by Washington, he said, adding that Moscow wanted “good relations” and remained open for dialogue.

On Thursday, March 29, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would expel 60 US diplomats and close Washington’s consulate in Saint Petersburg in a tit-for-tat response to the expulsion of its envoys in the wake of the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Russia’s expulsion of US diplomats marked a “further deterioration” in relations between the two countries.

In all, more than 150 Russian diplomats have been ordered out of EU and NATO member countries and other nations in coordinated action against Moscow over its alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in southwestern England on March 4. –