Published: Sat, March 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

From Russian spy poisoning to diplomatic tensions

From Russian spy poisoning to diplomatic tensions

Russian Federation has expelled 23 British diplomats in a deepening geopolitical dispute over a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain.

"Regarding the disparity between both countries' consular institutions, Russian Federation withdraws its consent to establish British Consulate General in Saint Petersburg", the announcement says.

Earlier on Saturday Russia's foreign ministry summoned Britain's ambassador to the country, Laurie Bristow, for a meeting, as diplomatic relations continue to sour.

The country's foreign ministry also warned Britain that "if further unfriendly actions are taken towards Russia, the Russian side retains the right to take other answering measures".

Britain on Saturday said it had "anticipated" the tit-for-tat expulsion of its diplomats from Moscow over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent on British soil.

Russian Federation is to expel 23 British diplomats as a reaction to Britain's actions.

On March 4 spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, are found unconscious, slumped on a bench outside a shopping centre in Salisbury.

The Russian response was announced on the eve of a presidential election which is expected to hand Vladimir Putin a fourth term in the Kremlin, but which comes as the country appears increasingly isolated.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow afterwards, Mr Bristow said that the crisis had arisen after "the attempted murder of two people using a chemical weapon developed in Russia". She identified the substance used in the attack as a Novichok nerve agent, developed in the Soviet Union.

London has blamed Moscow and on Friday, even directly implicated Putin in the attack, prompting the Kremlin's fury.

President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shared the U.K.'s assessment that it was highly likely that Russian Federation was responsible for the attack-the first use of a nerve agent in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization country. Police said Glushkov died as a result of a "compression of the neck", suggesting he may have been strangled.

Top EU diplomats were expected to discuss next steps at a meeting Monday, with some calling for a boycott of the upcoming World Cup in Russian Federation.

On March 17, on the eve of the election which is widely expected to give Putin a fourth term, Russian Federation says it will expel 23 British diplomats and halt the activities of the British Council in Russian Federation following London's "provocative" measures.

Nikolai Glushkov, 69, was found dead at his house in southwest London at about 10:46 p.m. on Monday.

The murder is not believed to be linked to the attack on Skripal and his daughter.

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