The Russian embassy has warned of retaliatory actions after Ireland joined dozens of countries in expelling a diplomat over the nerve agent attack in Britain.
However, Tánaiste Simon Coveney also admitted last night that Ireland did not have the power to “independently verify” Britain’s claims that Russia was behind the attack.
The decision, made by Cabinet, was informed by security chiefs and saw the Russian ambassador hauled in to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Ambassador Yury Filatov warned the move will “not go unanswered” and that Russian president Vladimir Putin will decide the next move.
The expulsion was deemed “stupid and dangerous” by some in the opposition who want evidence shared on why the Kremlin and Moscow are to blame for the attack in Salisbury.
The Russian embassy staff member has been given nine days to leave the country.
Mr Coveney said their diplomatic status was to be “terminated”.
“The individual in question is required to leave the jurisdiction.”
Mr Coveney also extended sympathies to the victims of the shopping mall fire in the Russian city of Kemorovo, where at least 64 people lost their lives.
Mr Filatov, in a briefing with journalists at the embassy in Rathgar, Dublin, denounced the expulsion.
“This kind of decision is totally unwarranted, uncalled for, senseless and regrettable,” he said.
“There was no Russian involvement in Salisbury.
“And it is high time that Great Britain stop misleading its own public as well as the international community.”
The ambassador described the current situation as “political theatre”.
He hoped the goodwill could help “overcome any damage” between Ireland and Russia.
However, asked what counter-action Moscow might take, Mr Filatov said: “You might safely assume that this type of unwarranted action... will absolutely not go unanswered, that’s for sure.”
The diplomat being expelled had done nothing “bad or illegal” here and Moscow would now respond:
“I’m sure President [Putin] will take appropriate action and decision that might be necessary.”
The fear is now that Ireland and other countries who expelled officials will see repercussions from Moscow. Ireland has nine embassy staff working there.
Moscow has strenuously denied being behind the Salisbury poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
Mr Coveney said Ireland had to trust Britain, telling the Dáil: “It is true that we are not in a position to independently verify the UK’s assessment of responsibility for Salisbury.”
Several parties called for the release of evidence that Russia carried out the attack, including Solidarity-PBP who called the expulsion “stupid and dangerous”.
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