Foreign Minister of Germany Heiko Maas said that the decision of German authorities to expel four Russian diplomats in relation to the Skripal case was taken in solidarity and support of the United Kingdom. In an interview with the German Bild am Sonntag newspaper, Maas stated that it is very important that western countries united against Russia, as Moscow has destroyed the West’s trust through its recent behavior.
“Russia’s behavior in recent years has undermined a lot of trust,” Maas said. He noted, however, that Western countries still needed Moscow as a partner in order to resolve regional conflicts. According to Maas, keeping up a dialogue with Russia is important in order to continue disarmament. In addition, the minister mentioned the important role of Moscow “in sustaining international order.”
“That’s why we prefer keeping a dialogue open and expect that the trust [towards Russian authorities] will restore over time,” Maas said. He stressed that this would be only possible if “Russia was ready to [cooperate].”
On March 26, Germany announced its decision to expel four Russian diplomats in connection with the case of former Russian military intelligence officer and Colonel of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate, Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned in Salisbury, United Kingdom. Around the same time as Germany’s announcement, 20 more western countries including the U.S., Canada, France, Italy, and Spain made similar statements while expelling over 100 employees of Russian diplomatic missions abroad. London took an additional measure by expelling 23 Russian diplomats.
Sergei Skripal—who was previously convicted in Russia for spying in favor of United Kingdom intelligence—and his daughter Yuliya were found unconscious on a bench in a park in Salisbury on March 4. The next day, the United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May made a statement saying the two had been poisoned with a nerve agent, the Novichok that was developed in the former USSR. Given this evidence, Theresa May concluded there were convincing reasons to believe that Russia was involved.