Published: Mon, March 19, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Russian Federation expels 23 United Kingdom diplomats as fallout over nerve agent attack grows

Russian Federation expels 23 United Kingdom diplomats as fallout over nerve agent attack grows

"Due to the unregulated status of the British Council in Russian Federation, its activity is halted", the foreign ministry said.

The move by the Russian Foreign Ministry came in response to Britain's decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats.

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".

The expulsion marks the latest turn in a confrontation between Russia and the United Kingdom following the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the southern English town of Salisbury.

Det Sgt Nick Bailey, who was part of the initial response to the incident, remains in a serious but stable condition in hospital after being exposed to the chemical.

And it also said it would halt the activities of the British Council in Russian Federation in a tough series of retaliatory measures announced after summoning British ambassador Laurie Bristow.

The chairman of the United Kingdom parliament's foreign affairs committee said that Russia's decision to expel the United Kingdom diplomats was "hardly surprising".

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Skripal, a former colonel in the GRU who betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence, and his daughter have been critically ill since March 4, when they were found unconscious on a bench.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson upped the stakes Friday when he said it was "overwhelmingly likely" that Putin personally gave the order to use the nerve agent against the Skripals.

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

"We have no dispute with the Russian people", he said.

She said that the government will consider its next steps "in the coming days, alongside our allies and partners".

In a response, Russian Federation has called the allegations "shocking and inexcusable" and a breach of diplomatic rules of decent behaviour.

"It is our view that when political or diplomatic relations become hard, cultural relations and educational opportunities are vital to maintain on-going dialogue between people and institutions".

Russian Federation to expel 23 British diplomats
Russian Federation has continued to deny possessing the deadly nerve agent - novichok - confirmed to have been used in the attack. A former double agent, Skripal betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence before his arrest in Moscow in 2004.

Russian Federation should, in particular, provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok program to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Russian Federation denied involvement in his death. The 67-year-old had been one of Russia's most powerful figures in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russian Federation has insisted it is ready to cooperate in investigating the attack in Salisbury if Britain reciprocates by sharing the evidence it holds. Police said Glushkov died as a result of a "compression of the neck", suggesting he may have been strangled.

Police say there is no evidence at this stage linking his case with the Salisbury attack.

London's Metropolitan police counter-terrorism command has said there is no suggestion that Glushkov's death is connected to the poisoning attack, but that they are investigating because "of associations Mr Glushkov is believed to have had".

UK-Russia relations have been fractious ever since the assassination of another former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, in 2006.

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