Russia Has Expelled The British Defense Attaché Amidst A Diplomatic Dispute

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Russia Has Expelled The British Defense Attaché Amidst A Diplomatic Dispute

Russia has declared the United Kingdom’s defense attaché persona non grata and has given the diplomat a week to leave the country.

This action is in response to London expelling the Russian defense attaché earlier this month over spying allegations.

In a statement, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it summoned a representative of the British Embassy in Moscow on Thursday to express its “strong protest in connection with the unfriendly and groundless decision” to expel the Russian attaché from London.

 “We emphasized that we regard this step as a politically motivated action of clearly Russophobic nature, which is causing irreparable damage to bilateral relations,” the statement read.

“The defence attache at the British Embassy in Moscow, A. T. Coghill, has been declared persona non grata. He must leave the territory of the Russian Federation within a week,” the ministry said.

UK Secretary of Defence Grant Shapps called Russia’s expulsion of Coghill “a desperate move”.

“Whilst Russia’s DA in the UK was acting as a spy, Putin’s only issue with ours was that they personified the UK’s unwavering support for Ukraine,” Shapps said.

On May 8, the UK announced several measures aimed at targeting Moscow’s intelligence gathering operations within the United Kingdom.

These measures included expelling Maxim Elovik, a Russian colonel described by the British government as an “undeclared military intelligence officer,” revoking the diplomatic status of several Russian-owned properties suspected of being used for intelligence purposes, and imposing new restrictions on Russian diplomatic visas and visits.

The government stated that these actions were prompted by criminal cases in London involving allegations of espionage and sabotage conducted on behalf of Russia.

It also cited accusations that the Russian government had plotted to disrupt military aid for Ukraine in Germany and Poland, engaged in espionage activities in Bulgaria and Italy, and conducted cyber and disinformation operations, violated airspace, and jammed GPS signals to disrupt civilian air traffic.

The UK has had a contentious relationship with Russia for years, accusing Russian agents of targeted killings and espionage, including cyberattacks aimed at British parliamentarians, and leaking and amplifying sensitive information to benefit Russian interests.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK has imposed sanctions on hundreds of wealthy Russians and taken steps to curb money laundering through London’s property and financial markets.

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