Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

Russia's diplomat expulsion does not change facts, says British PM

Russia's diplomat expulsion does not change facts, says British PM Russia's diplomat expulsion does not change facts, says British PM
Patty Aguilar | 19 March, 2018, 01:35

Britain, the United States, Germany and France jointly called on Russia on Thursday to explain a military-grade nerve toxin attack in England on a former Russian double agent, which they said threatened Western security.

"Due to the unregulated status of the British Council in Russian Federation, its activity is halted", the foreign ministry said.

Accusing the Russian state of the nerve agent attack, Britain is expelling 23 Russian diplomats and is trying to build a coalition of countries to punish Moscow as a result.

ReutersBritish ambassador Laurie Bristow leaves the Soviet-era Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow after being told of the sanctions.

It said the move was a response to Britain's "provocative actions" and "baseless accusations over the incident in Salisbury on March 4", referring to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal with a nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, which Britain has blamed on Russian Federation.

Moscow announced the measures on the eve of a presidential election which incumbent Vladimir Putin should comfortably win.

It said this was a response to Britain's "provocative actions" and "baseless accusations over the incident in Salisbury on March 4". It warned London it stood ready to take further measures in the event of more "unfriendly steps".

He had previously said Russian Federation had no motive to target Skripal, but suggested others could use the poisoning to "complicate" the World Cup.

Russia's response had been anticipated, a UK Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the UK National Security Council would meet early next week to discuss next steps.

'There is no alternative conclusion, other than that the Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr. Skripal and his daughter, and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey'. We can be reassured by the strong support we have received from our friends and allies around the world, ' May said at the Conservative Party's spring forum in London.

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.

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Russian Federation has repeatedly asked Britain to supply a sample of the nerve agent.

Russia's response was more robust than expected.

And it said it had halted the activities of the British Council, Britain's global organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, across the country.

Russian news agencies cited politicians in Russia's upper house of parliament as welcoming the move to close the British Council, alleging it had been used as a cover by British spies.

On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said statements by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tying Putin to the attack were "shocking and unforgivable".

Russia, which denies any involvement in the incident, condemned May's decision as unacceptable and vowed a swift response.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said to expect a Russian response "shortly" to Britain's expulsion of Russian diplomats and accused Britain of violating global law and "common sense".

The UK government was backed this week by allies France, Germany and the United States in its assessment that there was "no plausible alternative explanation" than that Russian Federation was responsible for the nerve agent attack. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said neither Russian Federation nor the Soviet Union had run a programme to develop Novichok.

A British policeman who was also poisoned when he went to help them is in a serious but stable condition. British police said Friday that he died from compression to the neck and opened a murder investigation.

A United Kingdom inquiry found that two Russian agents poisoned Litvinenko at a London hotel bar in 2006 by spiking his tea with highly radioactive polonium-210, and that Putin "probably approved" Litvinenko's killing.

The Western leaders said the use of the toxin was a clear breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention and worldwide law.

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