Russian Federation has announced the expulsion of 23 British diplomats as a row escalated with Britain over a nerve-agent attack on a former double agent, Sergei Skripal and his daughter on British soil. Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain will consider its next steps in the coming days alongside its allies.
Relations between Russia and the United Kingdom deteriorated in two recent weeks after former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious in a shopping center in Salisbury. "The attempted assassination of two people on British soil for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable".
A ministry spokesman said that Britain's first priority would be in helping those who would be returning to Britain.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that Moscow would "certainly" expel some British diplomats in a tit-for-tat response. May on Wednesday expelled 23 Russian diplomats, severed high-level contacts with Moscow and vowed both open and covert actions following the attack.
On Saturday, Russia's Foreign Ministry announced that 23 British diplomats were declared persona non grata and would be expelled within a week.
TRT World's Dana Lewis reports.
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She said other Russian dissidents living in Britain still did not feel very secure and it was hard not to see the death in London on Monday of another Putin critic, Nikolai Glushkov, 68, as suspicious.
The Kremlin is also preparing retaliatory measures against Britain.
And British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Russia targeted Skripal - a former Russian intelligence officer convicted of spying for Britain - to make it clear that those who defy the Russian state deserve to "choke on their own 30 pieces of silver".
Mrs May said: "What is important in the global arena - and we have taken this into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, into the United Nations, take it through into the European Union - is that allies are standing alongside us and saying this is part of a pattern of activity that we have seen from Russian Federation in their interference, their disruption that they have perpetrated across a number of countries in Europe".
"The United States believes that Russian Federation is responsible for the attack on two people in the United Kingdom, using a military-grade nerve agent", Haley said in her remarks. The father and daughter remain in critical condition in a hospital in Salisbury, southwestern England.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the 23 British diplomats had one week to leave the country.
Russian Federation has ordered the expulsion of 23 British diplomats in Moscow as the diplomatic crisis between the two countries deepens. Her husband Alexander, a former KGB agent, was murdered with the rare radioactive isotope polonium in London in 2006.
Putin is expected to easily win a presidential election on Sunday which would bring him to almost a quarter of a century in power.