MOSCOW, Russia – 23 British diplomats will be expelled from Russia within a week after being declared personae non gratae, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
“On March 17, British Ambassador to Moscow Laurie Bristow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry where he was handed a note saying that in response to provocative actions of the British side and evidence-free accusations against the Russian Federation over the incident in the city of Salisbury on March 4 this year, the Russian side has taken the following retaliatory measures,” the statement said.
Russia has also withdrawn permission to open the British Consulate General in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city after the capital, Moscow.
“Related procedures will be carried out in accordance with international law. Due to the unregulated status of the British Council in the Russian Federation it will be dissolved,” the statement said.
“The British side has been warned that if more unfriendly actions against Russia follow, the Russian side reserves the right of taking other retaliation measures,” the ministry added.
On March 4, Ex-Colonel Sergey Skripal of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate who was convicted for spying for the United Kingdom, and his daughter Yulia, were exposed to a nerve agent on March 4 which was immediately blamed on Russia.
They were found unconscious on a bench near a shopping center in Salisbury in southern England.
British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of “an unlawful use of force” against her country despite not being able to provide any evidence. She then announced that Britain would expel 23 Russian diplomats.