Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

Russia to expel 23 UK diplomats over Skripal spat

Russia to expel 23 UK diplomats over Skripal spat Russia to expel 23 UK diplomats over Skripal spat
Patty Aguilar | 18 March, 2018, 10:21

Russian Federation opens a probe into the "attempted premeditated murder" of Yulia Skripal.

Mr Putin's spokesman denounced the claim.

As relations between the two nations sank to a new post-Cold War low, almost two dozen Russian diplomats in London were packing their bags to leave Tuesday after an expulsion order from Britain.

In an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel, Yakovenko also accused Britain of cranking up its aggression against Moscow in order to distract the British public from the difficulties it was having managing the country's 2019 exit from the European Union.

He warned Mrs May not to "rush way ahead of the evidence" - highlighting the way worldwide crises such as the Iraq War had seen "clear thinking" overwhelmed by "emotion and hasty judgments".

Skripal betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence before his arrest in Moscow in 2004. Her father has British citizenship.

The victims of the Salisbury attack, meanwhile, remain in a critical but stable condition in hospital, while a police officer also remains in a serious condition. A subsequent pathologist report found that Glushkov died by a "compression to the neck", the police said.

But to the West, they are raising similar concerns.

"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. "It will create certain problems but most of us understand where we are working and in the current situation each diplomat is ready for any unexpected developments", he added.

Peskov reiterated Moscow's position that Britain's accusations were unfounded and that the attack on Skripal had "all the signs of a provocation". Konstantin Kosachev, the had of the foreign affairs committe in the upper house of the Russian parliament told The Associated Press, "This is not our choice, definitely".

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"We will freeze Russian state assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of United Kingdom nationals or residents", May said, without giving details.

High-level diplomatic rifts follow a predictable pattern, says Palmer, and this one is no different; everyone knew Russia's move was coming, it was just a question of when.

Moscow has refused to comply with Britain's demands unless the government provided samples of the poison collected by investigators.

The Russian Ambassador denied the UK's allegations, saying, "It is nothing but a fable, absolute nonsense".

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former commander of the British Army's chemical and biological weapons regiment, called the claim that US or British agents could have developed Novichok "complete hogwash".

The 29-member North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance expresses solidarity with Britain over what it calls the first offensive use of a nerve agent on the military alliance's territory since World War II.

On Friday, Russia's Investigative Committee said it had launched its own criminal proceedings in connection with the "attempted murder of a Russian citizen, Yulia Skripal" in Salisbury and what it called the "murder" of Nikolai Glushkov in London. She said Britain is taking a tough line because of frustration at recent advances of Russian-backed Syrian government forces against Western-backed rebels.

The chemical weapon, known as Novichok, is extremely lethal and extraordinarily rare to find outside of Russian Federation.

Senior sources have told the Telegraph they are convinced the Novichok nerve agent was hidden in the luggage of Yulia Skripal, the double agent's 33-year-old daughter. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in the Guardian that it's possible that "Russian mafia-like groups", rather than the Russian state, were responsible.

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