Bri­tain ex­pels 23 Rus­sian diplo­mats

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

LON­DON: Bri­tain will ex­pel 23 Rus­sian diplo­mats, who must leave in one week, in re­sponse to a nerve toxin at­tack on a Rus­sian for­mer dou­ble agent in south­ern Eng­land, Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said yes­ter­day, adding it was the big­gest sin­gle ex­pul­sion in over 30 years.

May said Bri­tain would also in­tro­duce new mea­sures to strengthen de­fences against hos­tile state ac­tiv­i­ties, freeze Rus­sian state as­sets wher­ever there was ev­i­dence of a threat and down­grade its at­ten­dance at the World Cup in Rus­sia this sum­mer.

Rus­sia, which has re­peat­edly de­nied any in­volve­ment in the nerve agent at­tack, said Bri­tain should ex­pect re­tal­i­a­tion for its ac­tions.

For­mer spy Sergei Skri­pal, 66, and his daugh­ter Yu­lia, 33, were found un­con­scious on a bench in the city of Sal­is­bury on March 4 and re­main in hospi­tal in crit­i­cal con­di­tion. A po­lice of­fi­cer was also harmed and re­mains in se­ri­ous con­di­tion.

May has said the Skri­pals were at­tacked with Novi­chok, a Soviet-era military-grade nerve agent. She had asked Moscow to ex­plain whether it was re­spon­si­ble for the at­tack or had lost con­trol of stocks of the highly dan­ger­ous sub­stance.

“Their re­sponse demon­strated com­plete dis­dain for the grav­ity of th­ese events,” May said in a state­ment to Par­lia­ment.

“They have treated the use of a military grade nerve agent in Europe with sar­casm, con­tempt and de­fi­ance.”

She also threat­ened ac­tion against those she de­scribed as “se­ri­ous crim­i­nals and cor­rupt elites,” adding: “There is no place for th­ese peo­ple, or their money, in our coun­try.”

May said Bri­tain would re­voke an in­vi­ta­tion to Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov to visit the coun­try and sus­pend all planned high level bi­lat­eral con­tacts be­tween Lon­don and Moscow.

On the World Cup, she said no min­is­ters or members of the Bri­tish royal fam­ily would at­tend. – Reuters

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