Tit-for-tat expulsions continue as British-Russian tensions continue to rise, and Russia’s Foreign Ministry has informed the British government that in addition to diplomats already expelled, they must remove more than 50 additional people from their staff.
Russian officials say the intention is that the two nations will each have exactly the same number of diplomatic staff in one another’s countries. Going into the weekend announcement, Britain had a surplus of about 50 staff.
This is somewhat more straightforward than the other expulsions, which at least on the Western side mostly rested on the notion that everyone expelled was a “spy.” Russia is making no such claim here, and seems fine with Britain just removing whoever they want to.
Hundreds of diplomatic staff were expelled from both sides in the past week, with Britain and its allies ousting huge numbers of Russian diplomats early in the week, and Russia announcing retaliatory expulsions on Thursday and Friday, virtually identical numbers from the same countries as went along with the British-led expulsions.
Russia has also demanded an explanation for Britain searching a Russian passenger plane in London, and issuing a travel warning to its citizens, cautioning they could face official harassment in Britain.