Nerve agent fallout: Russian Federation evicts United Kingdom diplomats

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Nerve agent fallout: Russian Federation evicts United Kingdom diplomats

Russian Federation said it was also shutting down the activities of the British Council, which fosters cultural links between the two countries, and Britain's consulate- general in St Petersburg.

The Russian Foreign Ministry expelled 23 British diplomats on Saturday in a retaliatory move over British punitive measures against Russia and the former Russian spy attack row.

The foreign office said that Britain's National Security Council will meet to discuss further actions against Russian Federation.

The announcement is the latest development in an ongoing global saga that began on March 4, when Sergei Skripal, a former Soviet and Russian spy, was found unconscious on a bench next to his daughter, Yulia, in the English city of Salisbury.

Russia's response is "moderate, expected and appropriate", said Oleg Morozov, a former senior Kremlin official who now sits on the foreign affairs committee of the upper house of parliament.

Russia responded in kind on Saturday, when the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Laurie Bristow, the British ambassador to Russia, to tell him that 23 diplomats have one week to leave Russia "in response to the provocative actions of the British side and unsubstantiated accusations", according to a statement.

A British policeman was also poisoned when he went to help them and remains in a serious but stable condition.

A Russian scientist disclosed details of the secret program in the 1990s, and later published the formula for Novichok.

U.K. Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said it was the first instance of nerve agents being used in Europe since World War II.

Russia has now denied that any program under the name Novichok ever existed, despite the evidence presented two decades ago by the Russian scientist Vil Mirzayanov, who revealed its existence after becoming concerned it violated Russia's commitments to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Britain has escalated a war of words with Russian Federation over the incident in recent days.

The British Council said in a statement it is "profoundly disappointed" at its pending closure. She said Britain is taking a tough line because of frustration at recent advances of Russian-backed Syrian government forces against Western-backed rebels.

"It is our view that when political or diplomatic relations become hard, cultural relations and educational opportunities are vital to maintain on-going dialogue between people and institutions", it said.

Meanwhile new tensions have surfaced over the death this week of a London-based Russian businessman, Nikolai Glushkov.

Britain, the United States, Germany and France have jointly called on Russia to explain the attack, while US President Donald Trump has said it looks as if the Russians were behind it. British police said Friday that he died from compression to the neck and opened a murder investigation.

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