Published: Mon, March 19, 2018

Russia Expels 23 UK Diplomats In Retaliatory Move

Russia Expels 23 UK Diplomats In Retaliatory Move

London's key allies have closed ranks against Putin after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats and suspended high-level contacts, among other measures.

The British consulate in St. Petersburg was also ordered to close and the British Council must stop its work in Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a website statement Saturday.

On Thursday, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States and UK issued a joint statement on the attack, condemning the "first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War".

Russian Federation has called the charges "groundless accusations" and says British authorities have refused to provide samples of the nerve agent used.

"Russian aggression is the very antithesis of the liberal and democratic values that define the United Kingdom", she said.

Alexander Yakovenko, Russia's ambassador to Britain, told Channel 4 television that Britain's response to the attack was a "gross provocation".

In a rare joint statement, the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and the United States on Thursday condemned the attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia - both in a critical but stable condition in hospital - as an "assault on UK sovereignty".

Britain's foreign secretary accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of personally ordering a nerve agent attack in Britain, ratcheting up tensions Friday in an increasingly global showdown over alleged Russian meddling overseas.


Russia has notified London of the retaliatory measures in relation with the so-called 'Skripal case, ' British Ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow confirmed on Saturday after being summoned to the foreign ministry.

She also repeated accusations made by Britain to the United Nations that the poisoning was a "flagrant breach of global law and the Chemical Weapons Convention". He said Russia's recent provocations need a tough response, including action against Russian oligarchs with questionable ties who have used London as a safe haven.

Speaking to the AP, he called it unlikely that some of the nerve agent could have gone missing in the years after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. It warned London it stood ready to take further measures in the event of more "unfriendly steps". After several days of investigation, British authorities determined that they were poisoned with a nerve agent known as Novichok, which is believed to be unique to Russian Federation.

But she said Britain had "no disagreement with the Russian people". Russian investigators said on Friday they had opened a criminal investigation into the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal and a murder investigation into Glushkov's death.

Thursday's four-nation joint statement said the western allies shared the UK's view that Russian Federation was responsible.

Russian Federation offered some cooperation to British authorities after the 2006 London murder of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko too.

It said this was a response to Britain's "provocative actions" and "baseless accusations over the incident in Salisbury on March 4". 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.

Other media have taken a similar line, including the Moskovskij Komsomolets daily, which speculated about "the operation of British secret agents".

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