Russian Federation to expel 23 British diplomats: foreign ministry

Grant Boone
March 19, 2018

The statement said the government could take further measures if Britain takes any more "unfriendly" moves toward Russian Federation.

"We are profoundly disappointed at this development", the group said in a statement.

And it said it had halted the activities of the British Council, Britain's worldwide organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, across the country.

"We remain committed to the development of long-term people-to-people links with Russian Federation as we do in over 100 other countries".

Retired military intelligence officer Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury city centre on March 4. They remain in critical condition and a policeman who visited their home is in serious condition.

To recall, British Prime Minister Theresa May earlier announced that London considers Moscow to be involved in the poisoning of former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yuliya.

Russian Federation has denied the U.K.'s allegations, accusing Britain of using the incident in a campaign to smear Moscow.

Britain, the United States, Germany and France have jointly called on Russia to explain the attack, while US President Donald Trump has said it looks as if the Russians were behind it.

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".

Bristow told reporters afterwards that the crisis had arisen after "the attempted murder of two people using a chemical weapon developed in Russia".

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

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The diplomats are due to leave London on March 20, RIA news agency quoted Russia's ambassador to Britain as saying. Any boycott of the soccer World Cup, which Russian Federation hosts this summer, is not an immediate priority, she said.

Russia's response was more robust than expected.

On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said statements by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tying Putin to the attack were "shocking and unforgivable".

"We have said on different levels and occasions that Russian Federation has nothing to do with this story", he said.

Yesterday, Russia said it could hit back at Britain at "any minute" with its own raft of punitive measures.

British police appealed Saturday for witnesses who can help investigators reconstruct the Skripals' movements in the crucial hours before they were found unconscious.

Neil Basu, Met Police Assistant Commissioner, 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". "There is to be no Russophobia as a result of what is happening", Johnson said on Friday.

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

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. The Kremlin has always denied the accusation.

Russian Federation has refused Britain's demands to explain how Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military, was used against the Skripals in the English city of Salisbury.

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