The Russian Embassy in Bratislava has announced Slovakia will not take steps to expel Russian diplomats before the investigation into Skripal’s case ends. The Russian ambassador to Slovakia Aleksei Fedotov met with one of the top officials of the country’s foreign ministry, who informed him about the position.
The Russian envoy stated during the meeting that the attempts to besmirch Russia, which began long before the investigation came to an end, are unsubstantiated. Later the Prime Minister publicly announced that his country would act responsibly.
The announcement has come shortly after Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said that Bratislava won’t yield to any pressure in its foreign policy, defending in front of the nation's parliament the decision not to expel Russian diplomats over the alleged poisoning of former agent Sergei Skripal in solidarity with the UK and other EU states.
"I want to assure all of you that Slovakia will act responsibly [regarding the Skripal case]. But, on the other hand, we have clearly stated that we will not yield to any pressure and perform unnecessary theatrical gestures," Pellegrini said.
However, he told the MPs that some counter measures have been prepared if the necessity rises.
"Slovakia has already prepared further possible steps. We will wait, because it is not enough for Slovakia to have only an assurance that Russia is highly likely responsible [for the poisoning of Skripal]. We will begin by summoning the Russian ambassador to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If it is necessary, we will take further steps," the Prime Minister added.
Slovakia and its EU peers Slovenia, Portugal, Malta, Luxemburg, Cyprus, Ireland, Greece, Belgium, Austria and Bulgaria haven’t followed the UK’s call for the expulsion of Russian diplomats as a response to the alleged poison attack on former agent Sergei Skripal.
20 European countries as well as Britain’s North American NATO partners, the US, Canada and Australia, agreed to eject more than 100 Russian diplomats. Moscow has slammed the move, saying that it would not contribute in any way to the probe into the Skripals' poisoning unless presented with concrete evidence of Russian involvement, and vowed to deal with each country which takes such a decision. Russia has already expelled UK diplomats and ordered the British Council to stop its activities in Russia in response to the UK expulsion of Russian diplomats.
Skripal and his daughter have been in hospital in a critical condition since the beginning of March, after they had been exposed to what the UK experts believe to be the A234 nerve agent. The British government claimed that this substance was related to a class of nerve agents developed in the Soviet Union and accused the Kremlin of the murder attempt.
Moscow has strongly rejected the accusations and offered assistance in the investigation. However, Moscow's request for samples of the chemical substance used to poison Skripal was denied.