Russian response – 23 UK diplomats expelled

Cold War style tit for tat has returned, with Russia responding to the UK expelling 23 Russian diplomats with a matching 23 UK diplomats to be expelled from Russia.

Reuters: Russia expels 23 British diplomats as crisis over nerve toxin attack deepens

Russia expelled 23 British diplomats on Saturday in a carefully calibrated retaliatory move against London, which has accused the Kremlin of orchestrating a nerve toxin attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter in southern England.

Escalating a crisis in relations, Russia said it was also shutting down the activities of the British Council, which fosters cultural links between the two countries, and Britain’s consulate-general in St. Petersburg.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the 23 British diplomats had one week to leave the country.

The move followed Britain’s decision on Wednesday to expel 23 Russian diplomats over the attack in the English city of Salisbury which left former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia Skripal, 33, critically ill in hospital.

The Foreign Ministry said Moscow’s measures were a response to what it called Britain’s “provocative actions and unsubstantiated accusations”. It warned London it stood ready to take further measures in the event of more “unfriendly steps”.

Relations between London and Moscow have crashed to a post-Cold War low over the Salisbury attack, the first known offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since World War Two.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain would consider its next steps with its allies in the coming days.

“We will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens and others on British soil from the Russian Government. We can be reassured by the strong support we have received from our friends and allies around the world,” May told her Conservative Party’s spring forum in London.

From the Russian connected RT.COM: Moscow expels 23 UK diplomats & shuts British Council in response to ‘provocative moves’

The Russian Foreign Ministry said 23 UK diplomats must leave Russia in response to Britain’s “provocative actions and groundless accusations” over ex-double agent Sergei Skripal’s poisoning. The British Council will also be shut.

The ministry issued a statement saying 23 employees of the British embassy in Moscow have been declared personae non gratae. The diplomats must leave within a week. It also announced the operation of the British Council in Russia will be ceased given its “unregulated status.”

In addition, Russia is revoking its agreement on the opening and operation of the UK Consulate General in St. Petersburg due to “disparity in the number of consulate facilities of the two countries.”

“The British side has been warned that in case further moves of an unfriendly nature towards Russia are implemented, the Russian side reserves the right to take other response measures,” the statement added.

On Friday, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally ordered the suspected nerve agent attack – a claim Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called “shocking and unforgivable.”

“Sooner or later the British side would have to present some kind of comprehensive evidence [of Russia’s involvement], at least, to their partners [France, the US, Germany], who declared solidarity with London in this situation,” Peskov added.

Moscow has repeatedly offered its full cooperation in investigating the incident, which London claims involved a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok. Both nations are members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which means that London is obliged to include Moscow in the investigation.

Also from RT:

  • UK, Slovakia, Sweden, Czech Republic among most probable sources of ‘Novichok’ – Moscow
    “The most likely source of origin of the toxin are the countries which have been carrying out intense research on the substances from the ‘Novichok’ program, approximately since the end of the 1990s until the present time, and this project is not the creation of Russia or the Soviet Union,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday. She listed the UK, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sweden among the countries involved.

    The US should also “be put under question,” Zakharova said in an interview with the state broadcaster VGTRK.

    “How did they come to the conclusion about a Russian ‘footprint’ if they didn’t give us those samples? Logically they shouldn’t have this substance. Which samples have they compared with to draw such a conclusion?” she went on. “Questions arise: then, they should have samples, which they conceal, or it is a lie from start to finish.”

    “If the UK prime minister and other British experts give the formula, then it will be clear which countries have been developing these agents,” Zakharova said.

  • US training Syria militants for false flag chemical attack as basis for airstrikes – Russian MoD

1 Comment

  1. Blazer

     /  March 18, 2018

    23 for 23….not even…an ‘I’ll raise you….’!