Malta is to recall its ambassador to Russia for political consultations in solidarity with the United Kingdom following the poisoning of a former Russian spy.
"The government of Malta condemns the attack in Salisbury in the strongest possible terms, and agrees with the United Kingdom government’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible," the Foreign Ministry said.
Ambassador Carmel Brincat, who assumed the Moscow post in January 2014, will now be called back to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
In its statement announcing his withdrawal, the Ministry said it was "highly likely" that Russia was responsible for the nerve agent attack on former spy and double agent Sergei Skripal.
Skripal and his daughter were found slumped over on a bench in Salisbury on March 5. The UK government has accused Russia of being behind the attack.
On Monday, the US, Canada, Australia and many EU member states announced a series of expulsions of Russian diplomats and condemned Russia for the attack.
Moscow has denied all responsibility and said that it will respond to diplomatic expulsions in kind.
"Without a doubt, Russia, as is diplomatic practice, will respond symmetrically and observe parity when it comes to the number of diplomats," RIA news agency quoted the speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament as saying.
Following Luxembourg and Slovakia's footsteps
The announcement that ambassador Brincat will be called from Moscow came just hours after fellow small states Luxembourg and Slovakia said that they would be recalling their own ambassadors in the Russian capital.
Just last Monday, the government had said that it would not be expelling any Russian diplomats, as any retaliation by Russia would "effectively terminate diplomatic relations" due to the "very small" size of Malta's diplomatic mission in Russia.
Luxembourg had also declined to expel Russian diplomats on Monday, citing similar concerns about the small size of its diplomatic contingent in Russia.
Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia, and Portugal are now the only EU member states to have not taken any action against Russia so far.
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