12:46 GMT19 January 2021
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    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – Belgian decision to expel one Russian diplomat in response to Moscow’s alleged involvement in a nerve agent attack on Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in the UK city of Salisbury will not affect significantly the operation of the Russian diplomatic mission in Belgium, Russian Ambassador to Belgium Alexander Tokovinin said.

    "I don’t think so," Tokovinin said in an interview with the Belgian VRT broadcaster released late on Wednesday, when asked whether the expulsion would impact the operation of the Russian embassy.

    The ambassador noted that the name of the diplomat, whom Brussels decided to expel, had not yet been announced to the Russian side.

    READ MORE: Groundless Expulsion of Russian Diplomats: Stunt to Escalate Tension — Analysts

    Tokovinin expressed regret over the decision of the Belgian government, adding that Moscow would respond to such a move by Brussels on the basis of the principle of reciprocity.

    The diplomat outlined the need for dialogue between Moscow and the EU states, as Russia and the European Union are two major players on the European continent.

    Commenting on the statement of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg concerning the coordinated actions of the alliance's members, acting in solidarity with the United Kingdom by expelling Russian diplomats, Tokovinin noted that the West was overestimating its power and capacity to influence international developments.

    On Tuesday, the Belgian cabinet announced its decision to expel one Russian diplomatic staff member in solidarity with the United Kingdom over the poisoning incident.

    READ MORE: Lavrov: Skripal Case Shows That There Are Not Many Independent Players Left

    Earlier this week, over 25 countries, including the United States and EU member states, decided to expel Russian diplomats over Moscow's alleged involvement in the attack on Skripal and his daughter. The move followed London's statement that Russia had "highly likely" organized the attack. Moscow has rejected all the accusations, and said that it would respond "adequately" to the expulsion of its diplomatic workers.


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