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Russian Federation to expel 23 British diplomats: foreign ministry

19 March, 2018, 05:44 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Britain says its priority is looking after staff in Russia

Russian Federation ordered the expulsion of 23 British diplomats in retaliation for United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May's ouster of 23 Kremlin envoys over the nerve-agent poisoning near London of a former spy and his daughter.

Linking Putin to the attack on Sergei Skripal, who moved to Britain in a 2010 spy swap, "is nothing but shocking and unforgivable behaviour from the point of view of diplomacy", Peskov told Russian news agencies.

Escalating a crisis in relations, Russian Federation said it was also shutting down the activities of the British Council, which fosters cultural links between the two countries, and Britain's consulate-general in St. Petersburg.

The Foreign Ministry said Moscow's measures were a response to what it called Britain's "provocative actions and groundless accusations".

"Russia's response doesn't change the facts of the matter - the attempted assassination of two people on British soil, for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable." it said in a statement.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the US blamed Russia for the attempted killing of a former Russian military-intelligence agent in the United Kingdom earlier this month using a deadly nerve agent.

London's key allies have closed ranks against Putin after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats and suspended high-level contacts, among other measures.

Russian Federation will respond soon with sanctions. The two remain in critical condition.

At Thursday's White House media briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump "has been extremely tough on Russian Federation throughout his administration".

A Russian lawmaker warned Britain against escalating the crisis.

May warned more measures could follow against Russian Federation, noting that the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance and the UN Security Council had discussed the attack.

Britain says Russian Federation was behind what it says was an attempt to kill the Skripals with a powerful chemical substance developed by the Soviet Union. The Times went with "West unites to confront Russian Federation over poisonings" alongside a photograph of President John F Kennedy, who led the United States during perhaps the most dramatic phase of the actual Cold War.

The country has demanded access to the case and opened its own investigation into the attempted murders on Friday.

'Their response demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events, ' May said in a statement to parliament.

May said Britain would also introduce new measures to strengthen its means of defence against hostile state activities, freeze Russian state assets wherever there was evidence of a threat and downgrade its attendance at the football World Cup in Russia this summer. Britain said the assistance in that case was not enough, and in 2016, a judge-led inquiry concluded that Putin had probably approved Litvinenko's murder, something Moscow denies.

The influential speaker of Russia's lower parliamentary chamber, Vyacheslav Volodin, went further in denouncing what he termed "a premeditated action which constitutes a form of interference in the (electoral) campaign". British investigators are working on the theory that an item of clothing or cosmetics or a gift in the luggage of Skripal's daughter was impregnated with the toxin, and then opened in Skripal's house in Salisbury, the Daily Telegraph said.



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