The demand was communicated to the Russian Embassy in Berlin today. The expulsion is part of a coordinated response by the European Union and NATO allies to the poisoning of Sergej Skirpal and his daughter in Salisbury.
A spokesperson for the German Foreign Office said that attacks on Germany’s closest partners and allies would not go unanswered.
Message of unqualified solidarity
Foreign Minister Maas said that to date the Russian Government had not answered any of the unresolved questions and had shown no willingness to play a constructive role in clarifying the circumstances of the attack, adding that it was clear that such an attack must draw consequences.
Russian must live up to its responsibility
The Foreign Office’s spokesperson said that the step to expel diplomats was being taken against the background of the recent cyber operation against the German Government’s protected IT system, which according to the information currently available was most likely the work of a Russian source.
Foreign Minster Heiko Maas’s statement in full:
The attack in Salisbury shocked all of us in the European Union. For the first time since the end of the Second World War, a chemical warfare agent was used right here in Europe.
It is clear that there must be consequences. We in the European Union have therefore adopted an unequivocal position and stand shoulder to shoulder with the United Kingdom.
We did not make the decision to expel the Russian diplomats lightly. However, the facts and evidence suggest that Russia is behind this attack. To date, the Russian Government has not answered any of the unresolved questions and shown no willingness to play a constructive role in clarifying the circumstances of the attack.
We are thus signalling our solidarity with the United Kingdom. We continue to call upon Russia to finally live up to its responsibility, to play a constructive role and to fulfil its obligation to investigate the attack. As for us, we will continue to closely coordinate our joint approach with our European partners as well as within NATO. We remain open to a constructive dialogue with Russia, which is still necessary on many international issues.
German Foreign Office's statement in full:
In close coordination with its European Union partners and NATO allies, the German Government has decided to order four Russian diplomats to leave the Federal Republic of Germany within seven days. This demand was communicated to the Russian Embassy today.
Last week, the European Council agreed with the UK Government’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia in Salisbury and that there is no plausible alternative Explanation.
To date, Russia has failed to react commensurately to the UK’s demand that it help investigate the case.
The expulsion of four diplomats sends out a message of unqualified solidarity with the United Kingdom and signals the German Government’s determination not to allow attacks on our closest partners and allies to go unanswered.
This step is also being taken against the background of the recent cyber operation against the German Government’s protected IT system, which according to the information currently available to us was most likely the work of a Russian source.
We call on the Russian leadership to deal responsibly with the current situation: it is up to Russia to help clarify the circumstances of the attack, to answer the United Kingdom’s questions and to make a full and complete disclosure of its Novichok programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Despite the decisive reaction of Germany and our allies and partners today, we remain prepared to enter into dialogue with Russia.