Sunday October 17, 2021

UK ‘anticipated’ expulsion of Moscow diplomats: ‘Russia’s response doesn’t change the facts of the matter’

Ag Afp
March 18, 2018

LONDON: Britain on Saturday said it had "anticipated" the tit-for-tat expulsion of its diplomats from Moscow over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent on British soil.

Moscow announced earlier on Saturday it would expel 23 British diplomats and close a British consulate following London’s "provocative" measures over the March 4 incident in which Sergei Skripal and his daughter were exposed to a rare nerve agent in the English town of Salisbury.

"We anticipated a response of this kind and the National Security Council will meet early next week to consider next steps," said Britain’s Foreign Office.

"This follows the action we have taken, alongside other measures, to dismantle the Russian espionage network operating in the UK as a consequence of the attempted assassination of two people here in Britain using a nerve agent."

London has blamed Moscow and on Friday, even directly implicated Putin in the attack, prompting the Kremlin’s fury.

Earlier this week, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats and suspension of high-level contacts over the nerve agent attack.

And she also warned more measures could follow, noting that the US-led Nato alliance and the UN Security Council had discussed the attack.

"Russia’s response doesn’t change the facts of the matter," said the Foreign Office.

"We have no disagreement with the people of Russia and we continue to believe it is not in our national interest to break off all dialogue between our countries but the onus remains on the Russian state to account for their actions."

Russia insists it had no motive to target Skripal with what Britain says was a highly-potent Soviet-designed nerve agent called Novichok, in the first such attack in Europe since World War II.