Over the weekend, over 100 Russia diplomats—from many different countries around the world—were expelled from their respective countries after an assassination attempt on former Russia spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter occurred on March 4 in Britain. This represents not only the biggest American expulsion in 30 years, with 60 diplomats coming from the US, but also the biggest coordinated expulsion in intelligences history.
While the UK expected its close allies to follow behind them, the reaction from non-NATO and EU countries, such as Finland and Albania, and countries with close ties to Russia, like Hungary, where surprising. And given the presidents cooperation with Russia and lack of criticism towards Putin, Trump’s willingness in this issue has also been surprising.
There are many reasons this mass expulsion occurred. The attack was the first use of chemical weapons in Europe since the second World War. Many countries citing their own reasons, such as Germany, saying there was a Russian intrusion into the German government’s secure data network, or Australia, who pointed to a history of “recklessness and aggression,” including the attack of a Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine and interference in United States elections.
Many countries also denied to expel diplomats, such as Portugal, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Luxembourg. Some countries can’t, such as Austria, where Russia holds control over the far-right Freedom Party, which controls the interior and defense ministries, or Bulgaria, where Russian investment makes up a fifth of gross domestic product.
No matter what the outcome, this expulsion of Russia diplomats is the world showing Russia that it can’t just do what it wants, and could lead to some peace in the east.