Russian Federation retaliates with diplomat expulsions, consulate closure

Russian Federation retaliates with diplomat expulsions, consulate closure

The expulsions were a remarkable show of global unity and coordination, in solidarity with Britain, which had already forced 23 Russian officials to leave the country; Moscow responded by expelling 23 Britons.

The British government said the Skripals were poisoned using a nerve agent of "a type developed by Russian Federation". The US expelled 60 on Monday as part of the coordinated global response.

Russian Federation will expel 60 U.S. diplomats and close the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg in a "tit-for-tat" in response to Western actions after an ex-spy poisoning, Kremlin's news agency Tass reported on Thursday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that Russia would respond in a reciprocal manner after a mass expulsion of 150 Russian diplomats by the USA and 26 other countries. It added that the USA must leave its consulate in St. Petersburg no later than Saturday.

A graphic published March 29 shows diplomatic measures announced against Russia by the U.S., Canada, Australia, several European Union countries and Ukraine in response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent with military-grade nerve agent in the English town of Salisbury. Officials in Moscow accused London and Washington of pressuring other nations to sign up to an worldwide campaign of "Russophobia" which, they said, could drag the world into a new Cold War.

Lavrov emphasized that the expulsions followed "brutal pressure" from the USA and Britain, which forced their allies to "follow the anti-Russian course".

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The co-ordinated expulsions of Russian intelligence officers, he said, were a "coherent approach by the Western alliance to a range of aggressive Russian behaviour, of which the attack in Salisbury was just the latest, obviously very acute, example".

On Thurday, the hospital where the two are being treated said that Yulia, 33, was "improving rapidly and is no longer in a critical condition", while 66-year-old Sergei remained in a critical but stable condition.

Lavrov said that Moscow called a meeting Wednesday of the secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to discuss the case.

The statement went on to describe Yulia as "responding well to treatment" but that she continues to receive care 24 hours a day. He was released in a 2010 spy swap and moved to Britain.

Russian Federation has denied these allegations and demanded solid evidence. "Otherwise, that will be another confirmation that everything that is going on is a gross provocation", Lavrov said, according to Tass. She said Russian Federation continued to demand access to investigation materials, which Britain has refused to share. Moscow has likened the mass expulsion to Cold War-era tactics, saying the USA was "blackmailing" other countries into taking action against Moscow, and compared a State Department spokeswoman's description of Russian Federation as "beast from the deep sea" with "lots of tentacles" to Nazi propaganda.

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