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Moscow to expel 23 British diplomats after row over Russian involvement in spy poisoning

The response follows the expulsion of 23 Russian ambassadors earlier this week after the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

Russia failed to respond to a deadline set by Theresa May for Moscow to explain whether it was behind the attack.

The British ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow was summoned for talks with the Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday morning. He was told 23 British diplomats must leave Moscow within a week.

Russia’s tit-for-tat expulsion was widely expected. But the shuttering of the UK consulate in St Petersburg and the British Council cultural organisation went beyond Theresa May’s measures against Russia, escalating the diplomatic spat.

London may now come under pressure to retaliate more forcefully to Russia.

The Russian foreign ministry said the move was a “response to the provocative actions of the British side and baseless accusations of the Russian Federation relating to the Salisbury incident”. It warned the UK against “further actions of an unfriendly nature”.

The statement cited the “disparity in the consulate facilities of the two countries”: While the UK has consulates in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, Russia only has a consulate in Edinburgh.

The US embassy and three consulates have continued operations on a smaller scale.

“We have no dispute with the Russian people and a very large part of the work of my embassy here in Russia has been, is, to promote those links, those mutually productive links, between Russia and the United Kingdom, but we will always do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies and our values against an attack of this sort,” Mr Bristow told journalists in front of the imposing foreign ministry building in Moscow.

The British consulate in St Petersburg covers Russia’s second largest city as well as 10 nearby regions. It began operating in 1992 and was officially opened by the Prince of Wales in 1994 during the first visit by a member of the Royal family since the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.

Prince Charles also opened a St Petersburg branch of the British Council during the trip.

The cultural organisation had come under pressure in recent years following a diplomatic row over the poisoning of another former Russian spy in the UK.

The group has remained active in Russia despite diplomatic tensions, holding events for a UK-Russia year of culture in 2014 and for the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death in 2016. It has several musical events planned this month and has been holding a design competition for a Shakespeare monument in Moscow.

On Friday, Scotland Yard launched a murder investigation after announcing that a Russian businessman who was found dead at his south London home, had been strangled, sparking fears of a second Moscow sponsored attack on British soil.

Nikolai Glushkov, 68, who was a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin, was granted asylum in the UK after fleeing Russia in 2006.

A former right-hand man of deceased oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, his death came just over a week after Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned by a nerve agent in Salisbury. (www.telegraph.co.uk)

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Posted by on 17 marzo 2018. Filed under News From The World,Varie. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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