Russian Federation summons British ambassador to foreign ministry

Russian Federation summons British ambassador to foreign ministry

But Mr Skripal, 66, the Russian ex-spy who was the target of the attack, and his daughter Yulia, 33, remain critical but stable in hospital.

"Twenty three diplomatic staff at the British embassy in Moscow are declared persona non grata and to be expelled within a week", a foreign ministry statement said.

Russian officials also warned that if Britain takes "further unfriendly actions" against Russia, "The Russian side reserves the right to take further retaliatory measures".

On Saturday, the Russian foreign ministry tweeted an RT interview with Alexander Shulgin, Russia's permanent representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in which he suggested British authorities were "afraid". United Kingdom officials believe that the Skripals were exposed to nerve agent known as Novichok, which was developed in Russian Federation.

The Foreign Ministry said it would also order an end to all activities of the British Council, Britain's global organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities, and warned London that "if any further unfriendly actions are taken against Russia, the Russian side reserves the right to take other retaliatory measures".

Mr Bristow told reporters afterwards that Britain had expelled the Russian diplomats only after Moscow had failed to explain how the nerve toxin had got to Salisbury.

Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, told Moscow-based Interfax news agency that the British Council was used as a cover organization for British intelligence officers.

More news: Russian Federation expels 23 United Kingdom diplomats as fallout over nerve agent attack grows

Britain has escalated a war of words with Russian Federation over the incident in recent days.

On Thursday, the US joined the U.K., France and Germany in condemning the attack as "an assault on U.K. sovereignty", saying it constituted a breach of worldwide law and calling on Russian Federation to explain its role in the poisoning in Salisbury, England.

"The origins of the nerve gas appear to be Russian, therefore the challenge has to be to the Russian government but also we and the Russian government are both signed up to an worldwide Chemical Weapons Convention".

Speaking at a regional party conference in Newcastle, Mr Corbyn condemned the attack but said it was important to fully establish the facts before passing blame on the Russian government. Russian officials had previously said that Russia had destroyed the Novichok weapons when it had dismantled its chemical arsenal, which was completed previous year.

Moscow hit back at the USA sanctions by expanding the number of Americans on its "blacklist", Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday.

Meanwhile, U.K. police have also opened a murder investigation in the death of another Russian exile living in Britain.

Mr Skripal, a former colonel in the GRU who betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence, and his daughter have been critically ill since March 4, when they were found unconscious on a bench.

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