Tuesday, 17 September, 2019

Moscow to Expel 23 UK Diplomats, Revokes Agreement on Opening Consulate Gen.

Patty Aguilar | 19 March, 2018, 00:35

Russian Federation is to expel 23 British diplomats following the row over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

Early on Saturday, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it had ordered the British diplomats to leave within a week and indicated it could take further action should there be what it called more "unfriendly" moves.

Yesterday, Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it was "overwhelmingly likely" that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself made the decision to use a nerve toxin against Mr Skripal.

Russian Federation on Saturday announced expulsion of 23 British diplomats amid tensions over the nerve agent attack on an ex-spy and his daughter in the UK.

"The onus remains on the Russian state to account for their actions and to comply with their worldwide obligations", the British Foreign Office said Saturday.

Moscow also chose to close the British Council in Russian Federation and to withdraw permission for Britain to open a general consulate in St Petersburg.

The ministry told him they were acting "in response to the provocative actions of the British side and unsubstantiated accusations of the Russian Federation in connection with the incident in Salisbury".

She warned that Britain "will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens and others on British soil from the Russian government".

"It's just another futile attempt from the Russian state to divert the story away from the facts - that Russia has acted in flagrant breach of its global obligations", a foreign office representative said.

"We are profoundly disappointed at this development", the British Council said in a statement.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador, Laurie Bristow, to a meeting on Saturday morning in central Moscow at its headquarters during which he was informed of the retaliatory measures.

Boris Johnson has said the United Kingdom has evidence showing Russian Federation has been researching how to use develop chemical weapons for the assassination of individuals.

He added: 'We support exactly what the prime minister said and we condemn Russian Federation for this, condemn them. With Russian help, Syrian forces have stepped up their offensive on rebel-held areas in recent days, leaving many dead.

Russia's ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, prompted a strong rebuttal when he suggested the poison may have come from the Porton Down laboratory, which is around eight miles from Salisbury.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom tweeted that she "forcefully reject (s) unacceptable and unfounded allegation" adding that "Russia should answer United Kingdom questions instead".

Meanwhile, The Sun on Sunday reported that Yulia Skripal's boyfriend was a Russian secret service agent.

On Friday, police said they were treating the March 12 death of exiled businessman Nikolai Glushkov as murder after a post-mortem found he died from "compression to the neck".

Russian Federation also suspects foul play in Glushkov's death and opened its own inquiry Friday.

While Russia has vigorously denied involvement in the attack, western powers see it as the latest sign of alleged Russian meddling overseas.

Lawless contributed from London.

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