Finland Expels One Russian Diplomat Over UK Poisoning

President Niinistö says Finland expects Russia to retaliate in kind.

Russian Embassy Helsinki / Credit: Embassy website

Finland has announced it will expel one person with diplomatic status from the Russian Embassy in Helsinki over the chemical attack on a former spy and his daughter in England earlier this month.

A government press release says:

“The President of the Republic and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy determined that Finland will expel one official with diplomatic status who works in the Russian Embassy in Helsinki. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will notify the Russian Ambassador of the matter. The expulsion will be put into effect simultaneously with the corresponding actions of other EU Member States”

The British government blames Russia for the attack that targeted former double agent Sergei Skripal, a Russian military intelligence officer who was spying for Britain, and his daughter. A policeman who went to their aid was also poisoned by the nerve agent, but was recently released from hospital.

Last week, Britain expelled 23 spies from the Russian embassy in London, and after discussions Thursday’s European Council meeting in Brussels, has managed to get other European allies to also take action.

Finnish Response

In a statement, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) says the decision to expel one Russian diplomat was not easy, and that the matter was considered thoroughly.

Meanwhile at a press conference on Monday evening, President Sauli Niinistö said that expelling one diplomat was a proportional response to the situation, and that he expects Russia to retaliate in kind by kicking out one Finnish diplomat.

“Dialogue with Russia continues despite the expulsion. Hopefully relations with the West and Russia will improve in the future” said Niinistö.

Action By Other Countries

Some of Finland’s neighbours and closest allies also announced their decisions to expel Russian diplomats today. Sweden and Estonia will also expel one diplomat each. France and Germany will kick out four. Meanwhile Canada will expel four, while the USA will expel 60, and close the Russian consulate in Seattle completely.

Britain’s foreign minister Boris Johnson called it the largest coordinated action against Russian intelligence officials, and says it was an “extraordinary international response”.