Russia expels 23 British diplomats in stand-off over spy poisoning

Russia expels 23 British diplomats in stand-off over spy poisoning

Russia expels 23 British diplomats in stand-off over spy poisoning

The British diplomats have a week to leave, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Russia announced Saturday it will expel 23 British diplomats and close the British consulate in St. Petersburg as part of its response to London's decision to expel Russian diplomats in an escalating row over the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in Britain earlier this month.

Moscow has denied any involvement in the attempted murder. It has cast Britain as a post-colonial power unsettled by its impending exit from the European Union, and even suggested London fabricated the attack to whip up anti-Russian hysteria. He also said that British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson, who earlier told Russian Federation to "go away and shut up", may lack education.

Russia's ambassador to London said he had received a diplomatic note informing him that Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are in a critical condition, but that Britain was "hiding" further details, RIA news agency reported on Friday.

"We will always do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies and our values against an attack of this sort, which is an attack not only on the United Kingdom, but upon the global rules-based system on which all countries, including Russian Federation, depend for their safety and security", Bristow told reporters.

And the ministry had also warned Britain that "if further unfriendly actions are taken towards Russia, the Russian side retains the right to take other answering measures".

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry cast Russian Federation as the aggrieved party. When Russia finally made its announcement Saturday, it went slightly beyond strictly reciprocal measures.

The spy, 66-year-old Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal, and his 33-year-old-daughter, Yulia, were found slumped on a park bench in Salisbury on March 4. Putin's spokesman denounced the claim.

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