Spy poisoning: Britain to expel 23 Russian diplomats

15 March 2018

Spy poisoning: Britain to expel 23 Russian diplomats

Relations between Russia and the UK have plummeted after the Kremlin did not meet a deadline to provide an explanation as to how a Soviet-made nerve agent was used in the attack on a former Russian double agent in England.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May directly blamed the Russian Government for the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

During her address, Ms May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats, the potential freezing of Russian state assets, new laws aimed at countering hostile foreign state activity and a ministerial and Royal boycott of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The Prime Minister said:

“[Russia’s] response demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events. They have provided no credible explanation that could suggest they lost control of their nerve agent. No explanation as to how this agent came to be used in the United Kingdom. No explanation as to why Russia has an undeclared chemical weapons program in contravention of international law. Instead, they have treated the use of a military-grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance.”

Russia continues to vehemently deny the allegations and expressed a willingess to work with the UK in the investigation, but its request for a sample of the substance has gone unanswered.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said, “The British Government has made a choice in favour of confrontation with Russia.”

Russian, UK and US diplomats sparred at an emergency UN Security Council meeting called for by Britain on Wednesday.

Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, reaffirmed his Government’s position.

“We demand that material proof be provided of allegedly found Russian trace,” Mr Nebenzia said, as cited by ABC.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the council to take, “immediate, concrete measures to address this now”.

Russia is expected to respond to Britain with similar measures.