Hatim Khan – 27.03.2018 - This Monday, the world saw one of the largest collective expulsion of diplomats. 21 Countries have sided with United Kingdom in the Salisbury case and expelled more than 100 Russian diplomats in total, who have been accused of being intelligence agents.

16 EU states, United States, Albania, Ukraine, Canada and Norway all decided to expel Russian diplomats following in the steps of the UK who had already expelled 23 Russian diplomats earlier this month. Russia had earlier retaliated to UK's decision by expelling British diplomats from Moscow but now finds itself cornered, as international pressure mounts upon the Russian administration to come clean and provide answers for the assassination attempt of a former Russian agent in UK.

Theresa May who had continuously accused Russian involvement in the assassination attempt that involved a military grade poisonous nerve agent has been successful in achieving a diplomatic victory by convincing the EU Countries that Russia had been involved in the incident. The EU leaders had reached an agreement last week that Russian involvement in the incident was highly likely. On Monday, US and other Countries soon followed the EU Countries in showing their solidarity with UK.

This sudden deterioration of relations among western countries and Russia, comes soon after Putin solidified his power by winning the recent Presidential elections in Russia and held office for the fourth term. It should also be noted that German and French leaders, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron had both congratulated President Putin over his recent victory and urged that the issue between UK and Russia should be resolved in a peaceful and diplomatic manner.

It is speculated that the Salisbury incident and such solidarity shown on the part of EU with UK might help lessen the burden on the authorities of either side, whose relations with each other have weakened during the ongoing BREXIT negotiations. It is argued that Russia was not in any need to carry out such an attack while President Putin was campaigning for his fourth term as President. The only Country not benefiting from the incident is Russia itself. Given the victory of Russia against the US and Western backed groups in Syria, Russia has argued that this incident has been self-orchestrated by the UK to draw attention elsewhere.

Russia continues to deny any involvement within the incident and have continuously vowed to retaliate such harsh measures by the UK. The Russian foreign minister has declared the states expelling Russian diplomats to have taken a "confrontational path". The foreign minister also threatened these Countries by saying, "It goes without saying that this unfriendly act by this group of countries will not go without notice and we will react to it".

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