Published: Sun, March 18, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Russia Expels 23 British Diplomats, Escalating Row Over Ex-Spy's Poisoning

Russia Expels 23 British Diplomats, Escalating Row Over Ex-Spy's Poisoning

Russia's Foreign Ministry also revoked the permit for the British consulate to operate in Saint Petersburg.

She warned that Britain "will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens and others on British soil from the Russian government".

The Prime Minister said Russia's tit-for-tat reaction to her measures following the nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal did not "change the facts" that she regarded the state responsible.

But she said Britain had "no disagreement with the Russian people".

The UK ambassador to Moscow, Laurie Bristow, was summoned to the ministry on Saturday morning and told of Moscow's action. The gulf between Russia and Britain widened on Friday, March 16, 2018 as they cranked up pressure over a nerve agent attack and a suspected murder in Britain that have deepened Western worries about alleged Russian meddling overseas. British officials say military-grade nerve agent was used.

Russia has now denied that any program under the name Novichok ever existed, despite the evidence presented two decades ago by the Russian scientist Vil Mirzayanov, who revealed its existence after becoming concerned it violated Russia's commitments to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

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Following the Salisbury incident, the British government has also pledged to re-examine 14 deaths on United Kingdom soil following a report that they could have been carried out by Moscow or the Russian mafia.

Britain's foreign minister Boris Johnson said Friday it was "overwhelmingly likely" President Vladimir Putin directly ordered the attack. The officer is reportedly now in stable condition.

British police said there is no apparent link between the attack on Glushkov and the poisoning of the Skripals, but both have raised alarm in the West at a time when Russian Federation is increasingly assertive on the global stage and is facing investigations over alleged interference in the Donald Trump's 2016 election as US president. Russia is also investigating the mysterious death of a Russian businessman who lived in London. British police said Friday that he died from compression to the neck and opened a murder investigation.

Berezovsky was found hanged in a bathroom at his home outside London in 2013.

Russian news agencies cited politicians in Russia's upper house of parliament as welcoming the move to close the British Council, alleging it had been used as a cover by British spies.

London's Metropolitan police counter-terrorism command has said there is no suggestion that Glushkov's death is connected to the poisoning attack, but that they are investigating because "of associations Mr Glushkov is believed to have had".

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