Russia expels 23 UK diplomats as spy spat escalates

Gavin Williamson

The Kremlin is surprised by the behaviour of the United Kingdom regarding the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov responded saying Johnson's claims violated all rules of diplomatic protocol. This is written in the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Great Britain.

Those named by Moscow are forced to leave within a week.

Labour former prime minister Tony Blair said Theresa May has "done the right thing in relation" to the attack.

British investigators are working on the theory that the toxin was impregnated in an item of clothing or cosmetics that was opened in Skripal's house, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources.

Meanwhile, Russia's Investigative Committee said it had launched its own criminal proceedings in connection with the "attempted murder of a Russian citizen, Yulia Skripal" in Salisbury. Her father has British citizenship.

The ex-spy and his daughter Yulia remain critically ill in hospital.

"To rush way ahead of the evidence being gathered by the police, in a fevered parliamentary atmosphere, serves neither justice nor our national security", Mr Corbyn wrote in the Guardian. But to the West, they are raising similar concerns. British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russian Federation of "an unlawful use of force" against her country.

Britain's government said the move was expected, and that it doesn't change the British conviction that Russian Federation was behind the poisoning of ex-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury.

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In a joint statement, they said it was the first nerve agent attack in Europe since the Second World War, and called on the Kremlin to declare its chemical weapons programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Mr Corbyn said Labour did not support Mr Putin and that Russian Federation should be held to account if it was behind the attack. The US president told the PM that they had their full support.

On Thursday, Ryabkov claimed Russian Federation had never developed anything like the alleged nerve agent, identified by the British as Novichok.

"Addressing the Commons last week, Mrs May said the decision to point the finger at Moscow was also based on "Russia's record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations and our assessment that Russian Federation views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations".

"Make those conventions work so we rid the world of chemical and biological weapons".

He said even the name Novichok was a "Western invention" and that Russian Federation never gave it a name.

Labour has faced intense criticism for its response to the attack after leaving open the possibility that Russian Federation was being framed.

Theresa May has said Porton Down has found the nerve agent used was part of a group developed by Russian Federation.

"Russia had nothing to do with it", Chizhov told the BBC. Last year, Russian Federation destroyed all its stockpiles [of chemical weapons]. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in the Guardian that it's possible that "Russian mafia-like groups", rather than the Russian state, were responsible.

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