Putin expels 24 nations’ diplomats in spy row
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.