New Zealand stands ready to join the rest of the world in expelling Russian spies from its sovereign territory – if any Moscow operatives can be found.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country’s security agencies have assured her that not one suspect can be found who would fit the profile of an undercover, covert agent.
“While other countries have announced they are expelling undeclared Russian intelligence agents, officials have advised there are no individuals here in New Zealand who fit this profile. If there were, we would have already taken action,” said Ardern.
She said New Zealand will review what further action it can take to support the international community over the UK chemical attack, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Scores of Russian diplomats have been ordered from the United States, Canada, Australia and various European countries in the wake of the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK.
The U.S. alone is expelling 60 diplomats believed to be intelligence officers. It comes after the UK’s initial removal of 23 diplomats – a move which was matched by Russia – in response to the Salisbury attack.
Russia has denied it was behind the attempted assassination, which left Skripal and his daughter gravely ill.
New Zealand is a member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing network, which also includes the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia.
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