Russia Expels 23 British Diplomats, Escalating Row Over Ex-Spy's Poisoning
Russia Expels 23 British Diplomats, Escalating Row Over Ex-Spy's Poisoning
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Commentary Kadri Liik
18 March, 2018, 21:17
British police said there is no apparent link between the attack on Glushkov and the poisoning of the Skripals, but both have raised alarm in the west at a time when Russian Federation is increasingly assertive on the global stage and facing investigations over alleged interference in the Donald Trump's election as USA president.
He dismissed a suggestion by Russia's European Union ambassador Vladimir Chizhov that the agent might have come from the Porton Down lab in Wiltshire.
"We will always do what is necessary to defend ourselves", he said.
It also said it would close the British Council in Russian Federation, which promotes cultural ties between the nations, and the British Consulate in St Petersburg.
And it also said it would halt the activities of the British Council in Russian Federation in a tough series of retaliatory measures announced after summoning British Ambassador Laurie Bristow.
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.
He said that Britain had expelled the Russian diplomats after Moscow had failed to explain how the nerve toxin had got to Britain.
The announcement comes on the heels of Britain's directive for 23 Russian diplomats to leave the country because Russia was not cooperating in the nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent.
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Britain's foreign ministry said it had anticipated Russia's response and that its priority was to look after its staff in Russian Federation and assist those returning home.
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The government in London "anticipated a response of this kind and the National Security Council will meet early next week to consider next steps", a statement from the Foreign Office said.
"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. Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has denounced the British accusations as "absolutely rude, unsubstantiated and baseless".
Russia's response was more robust than expected.
"It is possible that (Britain) will continue to respond; we are ready for this. Britain is acting too defiantly".
And it said it had halted the activities of the British Council, Britain's global organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.
The British capital has been dubbed "Londongrad", due to the large quantity of Russian money that have poured in since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, told Moscow-based Interfax news agency that the British Council was used as a cover organization for British intelligence officers.
Britain said the assistance in that case was not enough, and in 2016, a judge-led inquiry concluded that Mr Putin had probably approved Litvinenko's murder, something Moscow denies. "Relations have been poor for a long time, and the cultural field is the only arena where we can have positive, two-way reciprocal communication".
Glushkov, 68, was found dead at his home in the southwest of the United Kingdom capital on 12 March.
Ms Bishop said Australia supports a thorough investigation into the poisoning of the Skripals.
For older voters, Moscow health authorities will be offering free cancer screenings at selected polling stations. Some 2 million Russians will cast their votes overseas . "After he brought Crimea back, he became a hero to me".
He claimed that "some guy wasn't let into the club or got kicked out so he drove his 4x4 into the tent we was all in". Footage from the incident shows security guards wrestling the driver to the ground as punters shout and react.
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British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of personally ordering the poisoning. Moscow has now also opened their own investigation into the attack on Yulia , who is a Russian citizen.
However, Johnson went further, blaming Putin directly on Friday. "Those (American) politicians are playing with fire", he said. Russia's ambassador to Britain said Friday the 23 expulsions will reduce staff at the embassy by about 40 percent.
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Britain and Russian Federation have each expelled 23 diplomats and taken other measures in the escalating tit-for-tat dispute. Chizhov was then asked if he thought Porton Down scientists were responsible for producing the nerve agent used in the attack.
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