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Russian Federation expels 23 British diplomats in spy-poisoning response

Russian Federation expels 23 British diplomats in spy-poisoning response”

In a rare joint statement, the United States, France and Germany joined Britain on Thursday in blaming Russian Federation for poisoning a former spy and his daughter, calling the attack "the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe" since World War II.

In their joint statement, Trump, Macron, Merkel and May cited "a pattern of earlier irresponsible Russian behaviour" and called on Russia to disclose details of its Novichok program to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Both remain hospitalized in serious condition after they were found slumped on a bench in the city of Salisbury in southern England.

"We call on Russian Federation to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council to uphold worldwide peace and security", they said.

It notes that "four years ago this week, Russia held an illegitimate, fabricated "referendum" in Ukraine in a futile attempt to legitimize its purported annexation of Ukrainian territory" and "Crimean residents were compelled to vote under scrutiny by heavily armed Russian troops".

"These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. Now, Russia and United Kingdom are battling.

But Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev blamed Britain for the escalating tensions.

"Of course, we work with the police in each concrete case, and try to maximally cooperate with them [the police]", the Russian diplomat said.

The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Sweden on Saturday all rejected a suggestion by Zakharova that the nerve agent might have originated in their countries.

In a dramatic twist Friday, the Metropolitan Police said that the death of Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov, who was found dead Monday in his London home, was now being treated as murder.

UK-Russia relations have been fractious ever since the assassination of another former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, in 2006.

United Kingdom police renewed their appeal Saturday for people who may have seen Sergei Skripal's burgundy BMW auto on the morning of Sunday, March 4, to share what they know.

Russian investigators said on Friday they had opened a criminal investigation into the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal and a murder investigation into Glushkov's death. It is still not clear how the Skripals came in contact with the nerve agent.

Russian Federation also suspects foul play in Glushkov's death and opened its own inquiry Friday.

British police said there is no apparent link between the attack on Glushkov and the poisoning of the Skripals, but both have raised alarm in the West at a time when Russian Federation is increasingly assertive on the global stage and facing investigations over alleged interference in the Donald Trump's election as USA president.

Lawless contributed from London.

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