Published: Mon, March 19, 2018

Russian Federation to expel United Kingdom diplomats in spy row

Russian Federation to expel United Kingdom diplomats in spy row

Here are the main developments since the poisoning of a Russian former double agent in England sparked soaring diplomatic tensions between London and Moscow.

On March 14 London says that Moscow is "culpable" and it will expel 23 of the 59 Russian diplomats present in the United Kingdom.

It also said it would close the British Council in Russian Federation, which promotes cultural ties between the nations, and the British Consulate in St Petersburg.

Prime Minister Theresa May also responded defiantly to the tit-for-tat move, which followed Britain's expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats and the suspension of high-level contacts.

Britain's foreign secretary accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of personally ordering the poisoning of the Skripals, who were found slumped on a public bench in the southern English city of Salisbury.

She tells British lawmakers that the military-grade nerve agent used was identified as belonging to a group of nerve agents known as Novichok and of a type developed by Russian Federation.

On March 12 British Prime Minister Theresa May says it is "highly likely that Russian Federation was responsible for the act", saying Moscow could be directly to blame or may have "lost control" of the nerve agent.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that the British diplomats would be "declared persona non grata", adding that it "reserves the right to introduce other retaliatory measures in case of further unfriendly actions".

Following the meeting, Mr Bristow said the United Kingdom had no quarrel with the Russian people and would "always do what is necessary to defend ourselves".


Moscow also chose to close the British Council in Russian Federation and to withdraw permission for Britain to open a general consulate in St Petersburg, the ministry said in a statement.

The source of the nerve agent - which Britain says is Soviet-made Novichok - is unclear, as is the way it was administered.

Britain also stated that Russian Federation was highly likely to be involved in this incident, as the state did not give any explanation concerning this case to the British side within the terms set by London.

Speaking at her party's spring forum in London, May said Britain would "consider our next steps in the coming days, alongside our allies and partners".

Russian Federation has called the charges "groundless accusations" and says British authorities have refused to provide samples of the nerve agent used. However German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the European Union will not in the first instance discuss a boycott of the World Cup.

The Skripals are reported to be in critical condition, but British authorities have provided no further information about their status.

Responding, Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the accusations were "shocking and unforgivable".

It also says it has begun a separate probe into the suspected murder of a Russian living in London, Nikolai Glushkov. British police said on Friday that he died from compression to the neck and opened a murder investigation.

British police said there is no apparent link between the attack on Glushkov and the poisoning of the Skripals, but both have raised alarm in the West at a time when Russian Federation is increasingly assertive on the global stage and facing investigations over alleged interference in the Donald Trump's election as USA president.

Like this: