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

Coroner to hold inquest into Abbotsford death of RCMP spokesperson

Pierre Lemaitre died of self-inflicted injuries in 2013

Theft of floral hanging baskets blooms into creative project

Communitas Supportive Care Society in Abbotsford turns negative into positive

Langley City prefers Skytrain but will accept LRT, with conditions

Council declared Skytrain “superior” to planned LRT connection during December closed-door meeting

Fraser Valley coach keeps coming back to guide kids at the BC Summer Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Investigation ramps up at home of Sukhpreet Grewal, found dead in house

Police deemed the death to be homicide Friday, Saturday brought a surge of investigators to the area

Update: Police probe Toronto shooting that killed 2, injured 12; suspected gunman dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Deadly L.A. market shooting started with domestic feud

A domestic incident ended after a car crashed into a pole outside Trader Joe’s market

Another heat wave to hit B.C.’s south coast

Temperatures expected to hit the mid-30s in some areas this week

Sunken duck boat to be raised after deadly Missouri accident

17 people died over the weekend in a deadly boat incident

Man extradited to Canada in Burnaby killing, following arrest in South Korea

28-year-old Jui-Kai Weng was charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder

Canada beats Triple Crown for Canada Cup softball title

National team’s championship is first at B.C. tournament since 1996

Record high in Japan as heat wave grips the region

The temperature in a city north of Tokyo reached 41.1 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, the highest ever recorded in Japan.

Feds looking at ways to tackle wave of gun violence in Toronto: Minister

Toronto mayor John Tory spoke to the press following a mass casualty event in Toronto.

Two hornet-stung hikers rescued near Buntzen Lake

The pair had to be long-lined out by a helicopter

Most Read