VIENNA, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Austria will not follow the lead of other 14 European Union (EU) member states in expelling Russian diplomats, two leading officials said on Monday.
In a joint statement provided to the Austria Press Agency, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Foreign Affairs Minister Karin Kneissl said the government is "well-agreed" on its decision not to take any measures itself.
Austria is a neutral country that "sees itself as a bridge-builder between east and west," they added, and wishes to "keep communication channels to Russia open."
Despite this, they said they are in support of the decision by the European Union to recall its ambassador from Moscow, and that the union stands behind the victims of the poisoning.
European Council President Donald Tusk announced Monday in Varna, Bulgaria, that 14 European Union (EU) member states had decided to expel Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that Russia "strongly protests" diplomats expulsion by the United States and 14 European countries over an ex-spy case, vowing to retaliate.
"We consider this step as unfriendly and not corresponding to the goal and wish to establish the causes and search for the perpetrators of the (ex-spy poisoning) incident on March 4," the ministry said in a statement.
It said the British authorities took a "prejudiced, biased and hypocritical stance." It denied Russia's involvement in the incident.