Published: Sun, March 18, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

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

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

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain's quarrel was not with the Russian people but with the Kremlin.

"That's why a new concept of state security emerged a year ago, in which Russian Federation was called a serious enemy of Great Britain", Yakovenko said.

TASS said Moscow was expected to inform Bristow about retaliatory measures after Britain's decision to expel Russian diplomats over the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter. "Any reference to our president [in connection with this story] is nothing but shocking and unpardonable behavior from the point of view of diplomacy", Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told Interfax.

Skripal, a former colonel in the GRU, who betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence, and his daughter have been critically ill since March 4, when they were found unconscious on a bench.

In a separate action, the Trump administration issued sanctions on a number of Russian entities for a wide range of behavior, including attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

"We received meaningless formal replies", Zakharova said, adding that a total of four notes had been sent.

British police said Friday 131 people were exposed to trace amounts of the military-grade nerve agent used in the assault.

"We will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens and others on British soil from the Russian Government". The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons also says it expects action soon in response to the British investigation.

"Our priority today is looking after our staff in Russian Federation and assisting those that will return to the United Kingdom", the statement said.

A British policeman was also poisoned when he went to help them and remains in a serious but stable condition.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration will maintain tough policies against Russian Federation until Moscow changes its behavior, the White House said on Thursday. "Maybe he lacks education, I don't know".

"That does not mean we should resign ourselves to a "new Cold War" of escalating arms spending, proxy conflicts across the globe and a McCarthyite intolerance of dissent", he said.

The UK government was backed this week by allies France, Germany and the United States in its assessment that there was "no plausible alternative explanation" than that Russian Federation was responsible for the nerve agent attack. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in the Guardian that it's possible that "Russian mafia-like groups", rather than the Russian state, were responsible.

"The British side is warned that in case of further unfriendly actions against Russia, the Russian side reserves the right to take further retaliatory measures", the ministry said.

But he added: "Measures to tackle the oligarchs and their loot would have a far greater impact on Russia's elite than limited tit-for-tat expulsions".

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