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

Russian Federation expels 23 British diplomats as crisis over nerve toxin attack deepens


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

The British ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow was summoned for talks with the Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday morning.

This move came after the standoff between Britain and the Kremlin after 66-year-old Skriplal and 33-years-old daughter, Yulia, were attacked with a nerve agent in Salisbury.

The foreign ministry said it would also shut down a Consulate General in St Petersburg.

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

In a statement, they threatened to take further measures if Britain takes any more "unfriendly" moves toward Russian Federation.


Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, told Moscow-based Interfax news agency that the British Council was used as a cover organization for British intelligence officers.

He said the United Kingdom would "always do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies and our values against an attack of this sort". Russian Federation has demanded that Britain share samples collected by investigators.

While Russia has vigorously denied involvement in the attack, western powers see it as the latest sign of alleged Russian meddling overseas. They remain in critical condition in hospital.

Moscow has repeatedly offered its full cooperation in investigating the incident, which London claims involved a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok. 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.

Putin, a former KGB spy who is poised to win a fourth term in an election on Sunday, has so far only said publicly that Britain should get to the bottom of what has happened.

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