23 UK Diplomats To Be Expelled From Moscow

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Russian president Vladimir Putin

The Russian foreign ministry said staff from the UK’s Moscow embassy would be expelled within a week.

It also said it would close the British Council in Russia, which promotes cultural ties between the nations, and the British Consulate in St Petersburg.

The move comes in response to Britain’s decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats.

They were ordered to leave over the incident on 4 March which the UK government has blamed on Russia – but which Russia denies.

Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia Skripal, 33, remain critically ill in hospital, after they were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

The UK government says they were poisoned with a nerve agent of a type developed by Russia called Novichok, and PM Theresa May has said she believes Moscow is “culpable”.

On Friday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it was “overwhelmingly likely” that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the nerve agent attack.

Responding, Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the accusations were “shocking and unforgivable”.

Britain’s ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, was summoned to Russia’s foreign ministry on Saturday and was handed Russia’s response to the UK’s sanctions.

Mr Bristow, after leaving the meeting, said that the UK had no quarrel with the Russian people and would “always do what is necessary to defend ourselves”.

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