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Russia expels 23 British diplomats as stand-off intensifies

19 March, 2018, 05:48 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • May 'anticipated' Russian retaliation in ex-spy poisoning row

Russia's government is expelling 23 British diplomats and threatened further measures in retaliation in a growing diplomatic dispute over a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was giving the 23 British diplomats one week to leave the country.

Russian Federation has also withdrawn permission for Britain to open a general consulate in St Petersburg and says it will be closing the British Council in Russian Federation.

Blaming Russia for the attack, the United Kingdom said it would dismiss 23 Russian envoys, the single biggest expulsion in more than 30 years.

She tells British lawmakers that the military-grade nerve agent used was identified as belonging to a group of nerve agents known as Novichok and of a type developed by Russian Federation.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said it is "overwhelmingly likely" that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off the nerve agent attack.

On March 12 British Prime Minister Theresa May says it is "highly likely that Russian Federation was responsible for the act", saying Moscow could be directly to blame or may have "lost control" of the nerve agent.

The foreign ministry, in a statement, said that the British diplomats would be "declared persona non grata", adding that it "reserves the right to introduce other retaliatory measures in case of further unfriendly actions".

"We will always do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies and our values against an attack of this sort, which is an attack not only on the United Kingdom, but upon the global rules-based system on which all countries, including Russian Federation, depend for their safety and security", Bristow said.

Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement on Saturday that the country's National Security Council would meet early next week to consider its next steps.

Russian Federation has ordered the expulsion of 23 British diplomats in Moscow as the diplomatic crisis between the two countries deepens.

Two days later Lavrov's deputy Sergei Ryabkov says Moscow never had any programmes to develop the Novichok nerve agent.

British lawmaker Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said the move to close the organisation's office would hurt the Russian people.

Zakharova said the West is trying to "distract attention from what they did in Syria and Iraq" and that Britain "needs to somehow show the world that Russian Federation is not in fact a peacekeeper but is playing its own game".

Russia's intelligence service accused British diplomats of involvement in a spy ring in which agents allegedly passed secrets through a high-tech communications system hidden in a fake rock in a Moscow park.

The US says it stands "in solidarity" with Britain.

British researchers claim that y were poisoned with a Russian-made nerve agent, so Moscow - which rejects all accusations - demands that London provide a sample of that material. They remain in critical condition.

A post-mortem examination found the 68-year-old died from "compression to the neck".

The British embassy in Russian Federation is pictured on March 15, 2018. However German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the European Union will not in the first instance discuss a boycott of the World Cup.



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