Spy Poisoning: UK to expel 23 Russian diplomats, announces new measures against Russia

In response to the poisoning of Russian former double agent in southern England and Russia's refusal to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used in Salisbury, British Prime Minister Theresa May, has on Wednesday, announced that the UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats.

May said the diplomats have been identified as "undeclared intelligence officers" and they have a week to
leave, adding that it was the biggest single expulsion in over 30 years.

Prime Minister May also said the Royal Family and ministers will not attend the Fifa World Cup in Russia later this year, also revoking an invitation to Russia's foreign minister, all part of measures against Russia intended to send a "clear message".

Other measures announced by May, include freezing of Russian state assets where there is evidence they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents, increased checks on private flights, customs and freight, and suspension of all planned high level bi-lateral contacts between the UK and Russia.

She described Russia's refusal to provide any explanation as to how the nerve agent came to be used in the UK, as one of "sarcasm, contempt and defiance".

Russia, through its embassy called the expulsion of its diplomats "unacceptable, unjustified and short-sighted". The country's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Britain of "playing politics" and ignoring an international agreement on chemical weapons.

Russia also said that Britain should expect retaliation for its actions.

The UK is to brief the UN Security Council on the investigation at 19:00 GMT, and earlier met Nato's North Atlantic Council where Nato allies expressed "deep concern" at the use of a nerve agent and said it was a "clear breach of international norms and agreements".

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