Austria does not participate in the expulsion of Russian diplomats, to the displeasure of a number of other European countries. The government of Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is neutral on this issue and believes that Austria should be a bridge between the West and the East and that therefore all communication channels to Moscow should remain open.
With this position, the 31-year-old Chancellor distances himself from the coordinated action of several European countries to expel Russian diplomats. In total, more than 25 allies from the United Kingdom have announced that they are expelling diplomats, a total of over 140 people. NATO also came up with measures against Russia.
The decision of Kurz is criticized in a number of other European countries. The Swedish Foreign Ministry Carl Bildt complained on Twitter that deviating from the position of the European majority does not fit with an EU membership.
Also MEP Pabrik, who served as Foreign Minister of Latvia before, didn’t appreciate the position taken by Chancellor Kurz. He asked whether there are other European measures that, according to Kurz, do not apply to Austria.
“neutrality” for EU MS, is a bad joke. Which other EU policies/decisions Kurz does not apply to Austria?
— Artis Pabriks (@Pabriks) March 27, 2018
Austria chooses neutral position
Several European governments are convinced that Russia is responsible for the poisoning of the former double spy Skripal and his daughter, but to date no hard evidence has come to light. In spite of this, a large number of allies from the United Kingdom and NATO have already announced measures.
The government in Austria distances itself from these measures and opts for a neutral position. The fact that Austria considers a good relationship with Russia important is also apparent from the fact that in 2014 the country was already very critical of sanctions against Russia. There has also been some noise in Austria for some time to reverse these sanctions and to normalize trade relations with Russia again.