In tit-for-tat move Russian Federation expels 23 United Kingdom diplomats

May 'anticipated' Russian retaliation in ex-spy poisoning row

Speaking at her party's spring forum in London, May said Britain would "consider our next steps in the coming days, alongside our allies and partners".

The UK government says they were poisoned with a nerve agent of a type developed by Russian Federation called Novichok, and PM Theresa May has said she believes Moscow is "culpable".

The spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, were found unresponsive on a park bench in the cathedral city of Salisbury, England, after being attacked on March 4.

"We will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens and others on British soil from the Russian Government", she added.

In a radio show this morning, the Conservative chair of the foreign affairs, Tom Tugendhat said, "It's hardly surprising that they've chose to retaliate by expelling 23 people".

She described the act as attempted murder, and announced the expulsion of the diplomats.

British ambassador Laurie Bristow was called for a meeting with the Russian Foreign Ministry early on Saturday morning.

Escalating a crisis in relations, Russian Federation said it was also shutting down the activities of the British Council, which fosters cultural links between the two countries, and Britain's consulate-general in St. Petersburg.

The British Council said it was profoundly disappointed by Russia's decision and remained committed to developing long-term people-to-people links with Russian Federation despite the closure.

"It is our view that when political or diplomatic relations become hard, cultural relations and educational opportunities are vital to maintain on-going dialogue between people and institutions".

Russian Federation has continued to deny possessing the deadly nerve agent - novichok - confirmed to have been used in the 4 March attack.

With few election-related events to report on, Russians are seeing more news of the country's diplomatic crises with the UK and United States.

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The statement said the government could take further measures if Britain takes any more "unfriendly" moves toward Russian Federation.

Russian elections are due to take place on Sunday, with Mr Putin seeking a fourth term in office after being in power for 18 years. But it doesn't appear calculated to escalate tensions. The British Embassy in Moscow told CNN it had been given a list of 23 specific individuals that were to be expelled from Russian Federation.

Russian Federation argues it has turned the tide of the worldwide fight against Islamic State extremists by lending military backing to Syria's government.

A Russian police vehicle parks outside the British embassy in Moscow, Russia, March 17, 2018.

The Swedish and Czech foreign ministers and the Slovak foreign ministry all separately rejected the Russian claim.

British police appealed Saturday for witnesses who can help investigators reconstruct the Skripals' movements in the crucial hours before they were found unconscious.

Britain blames Russian Federation for the attack, which has left the Skripals in critical condition and a police officer seriously ill in a Salisbury hospital.

"We have to establish exactly where the nerve gas came from, who administered it and prosecute if we can", he said. British police said Friday that he died from compression to the neck and opened a murder investigation.

Russian Federation opens a probe into the "attempted premeditated murder" of Yulia Skripal.

"This crisis has arisen as a result of an appalling attack" in the United Kingdom involving "a chemical weapon developed in Russian Federation and not declared by Russian Federation at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as Russian Federation was and is obliged to do", Bristow told reporters in televised comments as he left the ministry.

Lawless contributed from London.

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