Russian Federation expels British diplomats

Marco Green
March 18, 2018

Speaking at the Conservative Spring Forum, May said: "Today our ambassador in Moscow was informed by the Russian Government of the action they are taking in response".

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain would consider its next steps with its allies in the coming days.

RUSSIA'S expulsion of 23 British diplomats "doesn't change the facts of the matter" of the poisoning of a former double agent in an English city, Prime Minister Theresa May said today.

In a growing diplomatic dispute, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that it would be closing the British Council in Russia, which fosters cultural links between the two nations, and that 23 British diplomats had one week to leave the country.

The retaliation comes a day before Russians head to the polls for an election in which President Vladimir Putin is expected to win a second term. Putin's spokesman denounced the claim.

Britain and Russian Federation have each expelled 23 diplomats, broken off high-level contacts and taken other punitive steps in the escalating tit-for-tat dispute, which clouded the run-up to Sunday's presidential election in Russian Federation. The organization has been operating in Russian Federation since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

"It is our view that when political or diplomatic relations become hard, cultural relations and educational opportunities are vital to maintain ongoing dialogue between people and institutions". It warned London it stood ready to take further measures in the event of more "unfriendly steps".

Western powers see the nerve-agent attack as the latest sign of alleged Russian meddling overseas.

The poisoning has plunged Britain and Russian Federation into a war of recrimination and blame.

The Russian foreign ministry summoned the British ambassador, Laurie Bristow, to its headquarters on Saturday morning to inform him of the retaliatory measures.

"This crisis has arisen as a result of an appalling attack in the United Kingdom, the attempted murder of two people, using a chemical weapon developed in Russia and not declared by Russia at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as Russia was and is obliged to do under the Chemical Weapons Convention", he added.

Opposition lawmakers are calling on the government to clamp down on the illicitly gained money of wealthy Russians in Britain.

Associated Press writer Angela Charlton in Moscow contributed.

Bristow told reporters afterwards that Britain had only expelled the Russian diplomats after Moscow had failed to explain how the nerve toxin had got to Salisbury.

Johnson told the BBC that "we actually have evidence within the last 10 years that Russian Federation has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination but has also been creating and stockpiling Novichok" - the type of nerve agent Britain says was used in the attack.

The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Sweden on Saturday all rejected a suggestion by Zakharova that the nerve agent might have originated in their countries.

Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky said this was "wholly unsubstantiated" and "highly speculative".

Writing in the Sun on Sunday two weeks after the March 4 incident which has left the Skripals in critical conditions, Mr Johnson said of Saturday's expulsions: "These futile measures will only punish ordinary Russians by depriving them of harmless opportunities to learn English and apply for United Kingdom visas".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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