New Zealand’s attempts to restart free-trade talks with Russia are on hold after the UK accused Vladimir Putin of ordering a nerve-agent attack in the British city of Salisbury.
“We are all deeply concerned,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a New Zealand television interview broadcast Saturday. “Salisbury changes things, and so it is too early at this point to say when or if those talks will restart.”
New Zealand's government suspended free-trade talks with Russia in 2014 over Putin's annexation of Crimea. The NZ Herald reported March 12 that Ardern backed Foreign Minister Winston Peters' push to restart the discussions.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats Wednesday in response to the poisoning of a former spy in southwest England. Britain is waiting on the Kremlin’s response, which is expected to include tit-for-tat expulsions as the two countries trade barbs over the apparent attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.