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Britain expels Russian diplomats over spy poisoning

London, United Kingdom | AFP | British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday expelled 23 diplomats and suspended high-level contacts with Russia including for the World Cup, saying her government found Moscow “culpable” of the nerve agent poisoning of a former spy.

May said she would be pushing for a “robust international response” when the UN Security Council meets later Wednesday in New York to discuss the “attempted murder” of Sergei Skripal and his daughter on March 4.

Russia has denied any involvement and the foreign ministry said May’s statement was a “provocation” and promised “response measures”.

May told parliament that Russia had failed to respond to her demand for an explanation on how a Soviet-designed chemical, Novichok, was used in the English city of Salisbury.

“There is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter,” she said.

“This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom.”

NATO allies, including the United States, have expressed their support for Britain following the first use of a nerve agent in Europe since World War II.

A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the deployment was “unacceptable”, adding: “Its use by a state would constitute a serious violation of international law.”

– World Cup boycott –
May said 23 Russian diplomats believed to be undeclared intelligence officers must leave Britain within a week.

Sam Greene, head of the Russian institute at King’s College London, told AFP the expulsion of diplomats was a “standard thing to do” and would draw a mirror response from Moscow.

Mathieu Boulege, a research fellow at Chatham House think tank, said the response was “relatively soft”.

May also suspended all planned-high level contacts, including an invitation for Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to visit Britain, but said she did not want to break off relations entirely.

She vowed to clamp down on Russians suspected of “hostile state activity”, freezing assets for those in Britain and detaining those arriving at the border.

May confirmed that neither members of the royal family nor ministers would attend the football World Cup in Russia later this year.

The British Foreign Office also warned its nationals visiting Russia could face some harassment because of the heightened diplomatic tensions.

Alexei Sorokin, the chief of the World Cup organising committee, said the boycott would have “no impact on the quality of the tournament”.

“It is every fan’s choice whether to come or not.”

Russia meanwhile has threatened to expel British media, after suggestions from British politicians that its state-owned channel RT could have its licence reviewed in Britain.

The post Britain expels Russian diplomats over spy poisoning appeared first on The Independent Uganda:.

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