Russia Retaliates, Expels 23 British Diplomats Over Spy Poisoning

British national flag flutters in front of the British Embassy with the Ukraine Hotel right in the background in Moscow Russia Friday

The ambassador is expected to be informed about Moscow's retaliation over the decision to expel Russian diplomats in connection with accusations of alleged poisoning of a former colonel of Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, TASS news agency reported.

Moscow also made a decision to close the British Council in Russian Federation and to withdraw permission for Britain to open a general consulate in St Petersburg. The British Council is a cultural institute with artistic, language and educational programs.

Moscow will exert pressure on the United Kingdom and will seek to send new Russian diplomats to London to replace being expelled from the United Kingdom, Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko said Saturday.

Russian Federation has threatened to escalate its response should Britain respond with further sanctions, according to the ministry statement.

The Kremlin has denied involvement, and Russia's ambassador to Europe has now suggested the nerve toxin could have come from Britain's own military research facility at Porton Down, noting it is not far from Salisbury.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are still in a critical condition, two weeks after the attack.

Some British lawmakers have urged Prime Minister Theresa May to freeze the private assets of senior members in Russian President Vladimir Putin's circle.

He said Britain must defend itself.

"We have no disagreement with the people of Russian Federation and we continue to believe it is not in our national interest to break off all dialogue between our countries", he said.

"We will always do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies and our values against an attack of this sort, which is an attack not only on the United Kingdom, but upon the worldwide rules-based system on which all countries, including Russian Federation, depend for their safety and security", Bristow said.

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Russian Federation has denied any responsibility for the attack on Mr Skripal and his daughter.

"Our priority today is looking after our staff in Russian Federation and assisting those that will return to the UK".

He reiterated Britain's position that there was "no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable" in the attack in Salisbury. "It is Russian Federation that is in flagrant breach of global law and the Chemical Weapons Convention".

Russian Federation has been stockpiling the nerve agent used in the Salisbury spy attack for a decade, Boris Johnson has claimed.

A Russian ex-spy and his daughter may have been exposed to the deadly nerve agent that almost killed them through his car's ventilation system, according to a report Sunday.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told reporters that it was "overwhelmingly likely" that Putin himself ordered the attack.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking to CNN, slammed that remark.

The identification of Novichok as the weapon has become the central pillar of Britain's case for Russia's culpability in the poisoning.

In a dramatic twist Friday, London's 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.

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