Putin ex­pels 24 na­tions’ diplo­mats in spy row

Daily Mail - - News - Mail For­eign Ser­vice

RUS­SIA hit back at Bri­tain and its al­lies yes­ter­day as the Krem­lin or­dered tit-for­tat ex­pul­sions of more than 150 diplo­mats from 24 coun­tries.

Vladimir Putin also or­dered the UK gov­ern­ment to send home more diplo­mats from Moscow as the row over the nerve agent at­tack in Sal­is­bury in­ten­si­fied.

Dou­ble agent Sergei Skri­pal, 66, and his daugh­ter Yu­lia, 33, who woke up from a coma on Thurs­day, were found col­lapsed on a bench in Sal­is­bury on March 4.

In re­sponse, 29 of Bri­tain’s al­lies or­dered out more than 150 Rus­sian diplo­mats. The UK ex­pelled 23. Am­bas­sadors from 24 coun­tries were sum­moned to the for­eign min­istry in Moscow and told to send home the same num­ber of staff they had ejected.

Rus­sia had al­ready vowed to ex­pel US diplo­mats and close Wash­ing­ton’s con­sulate in St Peters­burg, mir­ror­ing ac­tion by Amer­ica. Bri­tain has a month to re­duce its per­son­nel to the same num­ber that Rus­sia has in Lon­don. The For­eign Of­fice said: ‘It’s re­gret­table but in light of Rus­sia’s pre­vi­ous be­hav­iour, we an­tic­i­pated a re­sponse.’

It came as Rus­sia tested its new in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile, de­scribed by Vladimir Putin as ‘in­vin­ci­ble’.

The Sar­mat hy­per­sonic weapon was seen blast­ing off in a cloud of white smoke in a 23-sec­ond video re­leased by the Rus­sian de­fence min­istry. Mr Putin had boasted about the tech­nol­ogy ear­lier this month.

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