Moscow shuts British Council & expels 23 diplomats in response to UK move

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.

Britain’s ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Saturday morning, where he was informed of Moscow’s response to London’s claims that Russia is behind the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former double agent, and his daughter, Yulia, on March 4 in Salisbury, UK.

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Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson © Peter Nicholls

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.

READ MORE: Russian ambassador to UK confirms expelled diplomats will leave on March 20

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