The UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats after Moscow refused to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used on a former spy in Salisbury, the PM says.
Theresa May said the diplomats, who have a week to leave, were identified as “undeclared intelligence officers”.
She also revoked an invitation to Russia’s foreign minister, and said the Royal Family would not attend the Fifa World Cup in Russia later this year.
Russia denies attempted murder and says it will respond appropriately.
The expulsion of diplomats will “fundamentally degrade Russian intelligence capability in the UK for years to come,” May said. All planned high-level bilateral contacts will also be suspended, she said.
The UK also expects the United States to follow suit and also respond with measures to support the actions taken by the UK especially, after Senate condemned the attack that took place on UK soil on March 4th.
As a close alias of the United Kingdom, Downing street is looking for international support from alias to send a strong message to Moscow.
Former spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, 33, remain critically ill in hospital after being found slumped on a bench on 4 March.
Detective Sgt Nick Bailey fell ill while responding to the incident, and is in a serious but stable condition, but is thought to be improving.
May said Monday it was highly likely that Moscow was behind the poisoning. The Russian ambassador to the UK was summoned to the UK Foreign Office to explain whether the attack was directed by Russian authorities, or whether Moscow had lost control of the nerve agent.
May demanded that the Kremlin respond by midnight Tuesday, London time, to the UK government’s conclusion that Russia was linked to the poisoning of the Skripals.
But Moscow, which has repeatedly dismissed any accusations of involvement in the attack, ignored the deadline.
The United Nations Security Council has called an emergency session at 3 p.m. ET to discuss the Salisbury attack.
Russian officials have vowed to expel dozens of British diplomats in retaliation for Prime Minister Theresa May’s expulsion of 23 Russian diplomatic workers Wednesday after a nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent.
Russia’s Embassy in London labeled the expulsion of its 23 diplomats “totally unacceptable, unjustified and shortsighted.”
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