Luxembourg recalled its ambassador to Moscow on Wednesday in a show of solidarity with Britain over the poisoning of an ex-spy but said it will not expel Russian diplomats.
The tiny but wealthy grand duchy joins Malta, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Portugal in a club of EU countries that have said they are pulling out their envoys for consultations but not kicking out Russian officials.
Nineteen European Union states including Britain have said they will expel Russian diplomats for the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England.
The foreign ministry said that Luxembourg shared Britain’s assessment that it was highly likely Russia was responsible, and that foreign minister Jean Asselborn “has decided to recall Luxembourg’s ambassador to Moscow for consultations”.
“In the context of the Salisbury attack, the government of Luxembourg stands in full solidarity with Britain, faced by this grave challenge to our common security,” the ministry said in a statement.
Asselborn later insisted that Luxembourg had not reversed course since Tuesday, when he said the country would not expel any Russian diplomats because it could not prove any were spies, but made no mention of recalling the ambassador.
“I stand by what I said on Tuesday: it is clear that we don’t want to expel Russian diplomats… There is no contradiction with what I said about the expulsion,” he told AFP.
He added: “I have shown solidarity with Britain and shown that there is a very serious problem and that there are responsibilities.”
Luxembourg is one of the EU’s smallest states but is disproportionately influential due to its status as one of the union’s founding countries and the site of several of its key institutions.
Austria, Greece, Cyprus and Slovenia are the only EU states that have taken no action against Russia so far.