Published: Sun, March 18, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Britain's top diplomat says Russia's Vladimir Putin ordered ex-spy's poisoning

Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, have been in hospital in critical condition since March 4, when they were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in the southern English city of Salisbury.

"In America and Europe, they are trying to make us bend over and kneel, but we're still standing", Sergei Babayev, a 55-year-old transport manager, said in central Moscow soon ahead of the vote.

Russian Federation is on Sunday set to elect President Vladimir Putin to a historic fourth Kremlin term, with pollsters predicting a landslide despite a lacklustre campaign.

The expulsion of the 23 diplomats, 40 percent of Russia's embassy staff, according to the BBC, is the largest since 1971, when 100 Soviet diplomats and spies were ordered out.

Russia has denied any involvement, cast Britain as a post-colonial power unsettled by Brexit, and even suggested London fabricated the attack in an attempt to whip up anti-Russian hysteria.

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Sergei Skripal moved to Salisbury after being jailed for passing Russian state secrets to British intelligence while working for the Russian government in the 1990s.

"We have never encountered this level of discussion on the global stage", Peskov told reporters.

"Our quarrel is with Putin's Kremlin, and with his decision, and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision, to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the United Kingdom, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War", Johnson said.

Lavrov said Russian Federation will "of course" expel British diplomats and that he hopes the Skripals recover soon so light can be shed on what happened.

Further discontent at Britain's handling of the poisoning was expressed by Russia's ambassador to London, Alexander Yakovenko, who suggested the Government was using the incident to divert attention from Brexit.

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Britain earlier called for an urgent meeting to update members on its investigation into the attack.

Johnson said the attack was a way for Putin to send a message to anyone considering taking a stand against it that "You do that, you are going to die".

Russian Federation clashed overnight with the U.K. and United States at the U.N.

Russian Federation denies any involvement and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused London of behaving in a "boorish" way, adding that this was partly due to the problems Britain faces over its planned exit from the European Union next year.

"They will be appropriate, comparable - I think here there is no need to get hung up on words - mirror measures absolutely appropriate to the situation", she said on Russia's Channel 1. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in the Guardian that it's possible that "Russian mafia-like groups", rather than the Russian state, were responsible.

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