Spy poisoning: Russian Federation expels 23 British diplomats
Spy poisoning: Russian Federation expels 23 British diplomats
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the crowd at a forum entitled"Russia is a Country of Opportunities in Moscow
18 March, 2018, 00:22
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that Moscow planned to expel British diplomats in retaliation for the United Kingdom government's punitive action.
Bristow had also been summoned on Tuesday as a bitter row over the poisoning of a former double agent gathered pace.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May gave the 23 Russian diplomats - whom she described as undeclared intelligence officers - a week to leave on Wednesday as she accused the Russian state of being "culpable" for the attack in Salisbury.
It also said it would halt the activities of the British Council, the country's worldwide organisation for cultural relations, in Russian Federation.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Our ambassador in Moscow has just been informed by the Russian government that they will expel 23 diplomats, close the British Consulate-General in St Petersburg and close the British Council in Moscow".
As well, the ministry warned Britain that "if further unfriendly actions are taken towards Russia, the Russian side retains the right to take other answering measures".
The diplomatic snit stems from the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, who were found unconscious on a park bench in a shopping area in Salisbury, England, on March 4.
In response to this incident, Britain also expelled Russian diplomats, leading Russia to take retaliatory actions of its own, including closing several regional offices of the British Council, which promotes cultural exchange.
"In light of Russia's previous behaviour, we anticipated a response of this kind and the National Security Council will meet early next week to consider next steps".
May says the March 4 attack on Sergei Skripal is a "flagrant breach of global law and the chemical weapons convention". She said Britain is taking a tough line because of frustration at recent advances of Russian-backed Syrian government forces against Western-backed rebels.
And it said it had halted the activities of the British Council, Britain's worldwide organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, across the country. Their joint statement said there was "no plausible alternative explanation" to Russian Federation being to blame for the attack.
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Friday directly blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the attack, saying it was "overwhelmingly likely" that he had ordered it, reported the BBC.
Russian officials said Moscow would retaliate, but no measures have been announced so far.
Mr Bristow, speaking to reporters after being summoned, said the United Kingdom would "always do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies and our values against an attack of this sort". "There is to be no Russophobia as a result of what is happening", Johnson said on Friday. The Skripals remain in critical condition. British Prime Minister Theresa May this week ordered 23 Russian diplomats expelled as part of measures to punish Russia over the March 4 poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury.
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.
Trump called it "something that should never, ever happen, and we're taking it very seriously, as I think are many others". He claimed the U.S. move was created to coincide with Russia's presidential election on Sunday.
UK-Russia relations have been fractious ever since the assassination of another former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, in 2006. Russian Federation has asked to be allowed to examine the evidence and claims that so far it has not been allowed to do so.
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