With the expulsion of Russian diplomats, German government speaks of solidarity with the UK and an united European signal to Russia in the poisoning case of a former Russian spy Skripal and his daughter. But the reality is different.
The European Union is deeply divided about the decision. The expulsion of diplomats is supported by only 14 EU countries, other 10 will not follow this move. Among them are Bulgaria, Malta, Cyprus, Austria, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Portugal and Belgium.
The position of Belgium plays a special role as the status of Russian diplomats at the EU institutions is decided by the country in which they reside: Belgium. And Brussels does not intend to expel diplomats at the moment.
Also the German political landscape is deeply divided. The former EU Commissioner Guenter Verheugen has sharply criticized the actions of the Foreign Minister. “In general, sanctions should be fact-based and not based on assumptions. The argument in the case Skripal reminds me a bit of a verdict according to the motto “There is no proof, but we know he was it”. This attitude that Putin and the Russians are in any case responsible for everything bad in this world is a poisoning of thinking that has to stop.”
The left-wing faction leader Sahra Wagenknecht speaks of “simple ignorance”. In her words, the crime of Salsbury is not finally investigated, sufficient evidence is not available.
The AfD politician Hansjoerg Mueller even described Foreign Minister Heiko Maas as a “foreign policy dilettante”. In his words Maas must be put on trial for this decision.
The politicians echoed the critical voices from the United Kingdom calling for evidence in this case, especially the one from the Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn.