PM Theresa May: Expulsion of British diplomats 'doesn't change the facts'

PM Theresa May: Expulsion of British diplomats 'doesn't change the facts'”

Prime Minister Theresa May said on Saturday Britain would consider its next steps alongside its allies in the coming days after Russian Federation had earlier said it would expel 23 British diplomats.

Russian Federation has built up a stockpile of the nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal over 10 years, according to Boris Johnson.

The foreign secretary described the Kremlin's counter-measures after the United Kingdom pledged to expel 23 Russian diplomats - expelling the same number of British diplomats and closing the British consulate in St Petersburg and the British Council - would only impact on Russians.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, the foreign secretary said Moscow has breached global rules by investigating the ways that nerve agents can be used for assassination.

France has backed Theresa May's assessment that Russian Federation is culpable for the attack in Salisbury and says it stands in solidarity with the UK.

Russia's ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, suggested the nerve agent may have come from the Porton Down laboratory, which is about eight miles from Salisbury. He also said the government was considering something similar to the U.S. Magnitsky Act.

The measures were in response to "the provocative actions of the British side and the unsubstantiated accusations" against Russian Federation, the ministry said.

A ministry spokesman said that Britain's first priority would be in helping those who would be returning to Britain.

Vladimir Chizhov told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show Russia had "nothing to do" with the poisoning in Salisbury of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: "It's just another futile attempt from the Russian state to divert the story away from the facts - that Russia has acted in flagrant breach of its worldwide obligations", while Johnson said it was indicative that Russia was "not a country that wants to engage in getting to the bottom of the matter".

"We can be reassured by the strong support we have received from our friends and allies around the world", said May.

Despite diplomatic tensions rising and the Skripals and a police officer remaining in hospital, Russian Federation tried to strike a humorous tone. Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, called for "cooler heads". "We continue to believe it is not in our national interest to break off all dialogue between our countries but the onus remains on the Russian state to account for their actions".

Mr Johnson also backed a suggestion that Russian Federation had told a "direct lie" about its chemical weapons stores. Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky called it an "absurd accusation".

Britain said the assistance in that case was not enough, and in 2016, a judge-led inquiry concluded that Mr Putin had probably approved Litvinenko's murder, something Moscow denies. "Relations have been poor for a long time, and the cultural field is the only arena where we can have positive, two-way reciprocal communication".

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