Sergei Skripal attack: In tit-for-tat action, Russia announces to expel British diplomats; the story so far

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Published: March 15, 2018 5:25:33 PM

Sergei Skripal attack: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that Russia too will expel British diplomats. The announcement comes hours after British Prime Minister Theresa May ordered the immediate expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats over a chemical attack on a former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

Sergei Skripal attack: After Britain, now Russia announces to expel diplomats; British PM Theresa May speaks in ParliamentSergei Skripal attack: After Britain, now Russia announces to expel diplomats

Sergei Skripal attack: “We are compelled to make the following conclusion – the UK authorities are not interested in finding out the truth.” With these words, Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya said that the Russian Federation finds it completely unacceptable to launch an unjustified accusation as contained in the letter (dated 13 March) from UK Prime Minister Theresa May to the secretary-general of the United Nations.

Soon after, bringing the two countries to a showdown, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that Russia too will expel British diplomats. The announcement comes hours after British Prime Minister Theresa May ordered the immediate expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats over a chemical attack on a former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

The diplomatic tussle between Russia and UK reached an inflection point with after former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia was found lying unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, Southwest England on March 4. The British probe into the attack found that Sergei and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent Novichok, a chemical made in the Soviet era, Britain said. Notably, no country in the world other than Russia has access to the chemical. Thereby, Britain pointed fingers at Russia for conducting an attack on their lands.

While speaking in the Parliament yesterday, British PM Theresa May said that there could be only two possible conclusions – the first being that it was a Russian state operation and the second, that the Russian state has lost control over the Soviet-era nerve toxin Novichok.

May announced that the government would take a series of measures, including cutting off high-level diplomatic contact, strengthening powers to detain suspected intelligence agents at the border, and expelling 23 “undeclared intelligence agents”. Other global powers too jumped into the ongoing tussle with the US and Germany supporting Britain.

However, Russia took Britain’s threatens with a pinch of salt. In a tongue-in-cheek tweet, the Russian Embassy in the UK said, “The temperature of UK-Russia relations drops to -23, but we are not afraid of cold weather.” But now, in a tit-for-tat action, the country has issued a similar order against the British employees in Russia.

Sergei Skripal is a former Russian spy who is accused of handing over 20,000 pages of Russian secret documents to London. Sergei took refuge in Britain after being released under a spy swap deal in 2010 and has been living in the nation ever since.

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