Published: Sun, March 18, 2018

Russian Federation retaliates against the United Kingdom over ongoing spy poisoning fight

Russian Federation retaliates against the United Kingdom over ongoing spy poisoning fight

It also said in a statement that it is ordering the closure of the British Council, a government-backed organization for cultural and scientific cooperation, and that it is ending an agreement to reopen the British consulate in St. Petersburg.

The country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it had ordered the diplomats to leave within a week, moments after Britain's ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow left the ministry in Moscow.

The move comes in response to Britain's decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats.

Russia's Foreign Ministry ordered the expulsion of 23 British diplomats from Russia on Saturday in a tit-for-tat response to Britain's decision to expel Russian envoys in connection with the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter on British soil.

Moscow will not forgive the way London acts in the situation with the poisoning of Russian former intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko said.

Speaking at a regional party conference in Newcastle, Mr Corbyn condemned the attack but said it was important to fully establish the facts before passing blame on the Russian government.

Russia's response was more robust than expected.

Counter-terrorism police have also renewed their appeal for sightings of Mr Skripal's burgundy BMW 320D saloon vehicle, registration HD09 WAO, in Salisbury on the morning of March 4.

"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."

Bristow told reporters: "We will always do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies and our values against an attack of this sort, which is an attack not only on the United Kingdom, but upon the worldwide rules-based system on which all countries, including Russian Federation, depend for their safety and security", according to The Associated Press.

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. United Kingdom officials believe the Skripals were exposed to a nerve agent known as Novichok that was developed in Russian Federation.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said: "We are learning more about Sergei and Yulia's movements but we need to be clearer around their exact movements on the morning of the incident".

A British policeman was also poisoned when he went to help them and remains in a serious but stable condition.

Russian Senator Igor Morozov, a veteran of the Russian Service of External Intelligence, claimed that the British Council was shut down because United Kingdom intelligence operated under the cover of the organization, state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.

May has said the Russian state is responsible for the attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia. It has cast Britain as a post-colonial power unsettled by its impending exit from the European Union, and even suggested London fabricated the attack to whip up anti-Russian hysteria.

As the fallout from the poisoning unravels in the worldwide arena, British police are continuing their investigation into the poisoning of Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia. He was granted refuge in the UK after a high-profile spy exchange between the United States and Russian Federation in 2010.

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