Britain expels 23 Russian diplomats over spy spat

Britain would expel 23 Russian diplomats in response to a nerve toxin attack on a Russian former double agent in southern England, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Theresa May told lawmakers that 23 Russian diplomats who have been identified as undeclared intelligence officers have a week to leave the country. "Twenty three diplomatic staff at the British embassy in Moscow are declared persona non grata and to be expelled within a week", said a statement.

Russia's foreign ministry summoned Britain's ambassador to the country, Laurie Bristow, for a meeting on Saturday, Russian news agencies reported, citing an unidentified ministry source.

As he left the meeting in Moscow, he told reporters that the United Kingdom would "always do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies and our values against an attack of this sort".

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The representatives of Russia's Foreign Ministry added that the British Council is not anymore functioning in Russian Federation.

"This follows the action we have taken, alongside other measures, to dismantle the Russian espionage network operating in the United Kingdom as a outcome of the attempted assassination of two people here in Britain using a nerve agent".

Britain, the U.S., Germany and France jointly called on Russian Federation on Thursday to explain the attack.

London is mooting possible punishment against Moscow, with British communications regulator Ofcom saying it could review the licence of the Kremlin-backed RT broadcaster if Russian involvement in the poisoning was proven. It is an assault on the United Kingdom's sovereignty and any such use by a state party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of worldwide law. Late, Great Britain officially confirmed the use of Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury.

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Haley said the Russians have recently complained about being criticized too much, suggesting the criticism would cease if the Russians didn't use chemical weapons to assassinate their enemies or gave aid to Assad in his war against his own people.

On Friday, London's Metropolitan Police said a Russian exile opposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin who was found dead in London was murdered.

Relations strained further on Friday when London's Metropolitan Police said that it's treating as murder the death of Nikolai Glushkov, a close associate of Putin opponent Boris Berezovsky-a one-time billionaire who was himself found hanged in 2013 in his house outside London.

In London, opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, struck a starkly different tone to that of the British government by warning against rushing into a new Cold War before full evidence of Moscow's culpability was proven. There is no alternative conclusion, other than that the Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr. Skripal and his daughter, and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. The Kremlin has always denied the accusation. It has been a target for Russian authorities since most of its operations were closed by authorities in many Russian regions 10 years ago.

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  • Ryan Wade