Statement by NATO Secretary General on further decisions following the use of a nerve agent in Salisbury:The attack in Salisbury was the first use of a nerve agent on NATO territory. On March 14, NATO Allies made clear their deep concern, and condemnation of this reckless breach of international norms.
Since then, intensive consultations have taken place among Allies, including here at NATO and in capitals. Those consultations have resulted so far in the expulsion of over 140 Russian officials by over 25 NATO Allies and partners.
This is a broad, strong and coordinated international response. And as part of that response, NATO is unified in taking further steps.
I have today withdrawn the accreditation of seven staff at the Russian Mission to NATO.
I will also deny the pending accreditation request for three others.
And the North Atlantic Council has reduced the maximum size of the Russian Mission to NATO by ten people, in line with my decision.
This will bring the maximum size down to twenty.
This sends a clear message to Russia that there are costs and consequences for its unacceptable and dangerous pattern of behaviour.
And it follows Russia’s lack of constructive response to what happened in Salisbury.
Our actions reflect the serious security concerns expressed by all Allies, and are part of the coordinated international effort to respond to Russia’s behaviour.
They are proportionate, and in line with our legal obligations.
Today’s decision does not change NATO’s policy towards Russia.
NATO remains committed to our dual-track approach of strong defence and openness to dialogue, including by working to prepare the next meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.
And with that I’m ready to take your questions.
Q (Sky News): Couple of question if I may. First of all what difference in practical termswill these expulsions make? Cause some will say yes it’s united but somewhat superficial can you give some details of what material difference this will make the expelling of these diplomats if that’s what they are. And my second question. What changed last week because I know that European leaders went in to a dinner with Theresa May and they were, they told us somewhat sceptical on their way in by the time they came out, things had changed completely. Can you give us your sense on the evolution of opinion last week?
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