The United States and more than a dozen European nations kicked out Russian diplomats on Monday (Tuesday NZ Time) and the Trump administration ordered Russia’s consulate in Seattle to close, as the West sought joint punishment for Moscow’s alleged role in poisoning an ex-spy in Britain.
Warning of an “unacceptably high” number of Russian spies in the US, the Trump administration said 60 diplomats would be expelled – all Russian intelligence agents working under diplomatic cover, the US said. ..
The American penalties were echoed by announcements in European capitals across the continent, including those in Russia’s backyard. All told, 18 countries were ousting more than 100 Russian spies, British Prime Minister Theresa May said, in addition to 23 already kicked out by the UK.
The list included at least 16 European Union nations, with more likely to follow. Germany, Poland and France each planned to boot four, the Czech Republic three and Italy two. Ukraine, a non-EU country with its own conflicts with Moscow, was expelling 13 Russians, President Petro Poroshenko said. All three Baltic states said they would kick diplomats out. Canada, too, said it was taking action, kicking out four and denying three who have applied to enter the country.
Yep nothing from New Zealand. I wonder why that is!
In a fit of naivety or incompetence the PM has said:
Speaking to Morning Report today, Ms Ardern said the diplomats being expelled overseas were “undeclared intelligence officers”, and she had been assured by MFAT that New Zealand did not have any operating here.
What part of undeclared is hard to understand? Russia doesn’t tell MFAT which of its staff are spies.
There are other steps the NZ Government could do also, such as recall the Ambassador for consultations.