Russian Federation expels 23 British diplomats

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The Russian foreign ministry summoned the British ambassador, Laurie Bristow, to a meeting on Saturday morning in central Moscow at its Stalin-era headquarters during which he was informed of the retaliatory measures.

The move followed Britain's decision on Wednesday to expel 23 Russian diplomats over the attack in the English city of Salisbury which left former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia Skripal, 33, critically ill in hospital.

Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain will consider its next steps in the coming days alongside its allies.

The Czech Republic has rejected Russian claims that it was one of four countries most likely to have manufactured the nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Moscow announced the measures on the eve of a presidential election which incumbent Vladimir Putin should comfortably win. London and its allies have blamed Moscow for the attack and on Friday, Britain directly implicated Putin himself, unleashing the Kremlin´s fury.

The announcement followed on the heels of Britain's order last week for 23 Russian diplomats to leave the United Kingdom because Russia was not cooperating in the case of the Skripals, both found March 4 poisoned by a nerve agent that British officials say was developed in Russia.

It said this was a response to Britain´s "provocative actions" and "baseless accusations over the Salisbury incident".

It also said it would close the British Council in Russian Federation, which promotes cultural ties between the nations, and the British Consulate in St Petersburg.

The group said it was "profoundly disappointed" at the move.

Russian Federation also ended an agreement to reopen the British consulate in St Petersberg and said it would take further measures if Britain makes any more "unfriendly" moves.

He said: "My guess is actually our British friends and partners are afraid - they are afraid that our experts may analyse these samples and they may see some dirty tricks there or something".

The Russian Foreign Ministry ordered the 23 diplomats to leave within a week.

In a similar move, Russia closed the British Council´s regional offices in 2008 after relations nosedived over the poisoning of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko.

Britain, the US, 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.

Russia's Investigative Committee said it had launched its own criminal proceedings in connection with the "attempted murder of a Russian citizen, Yulia Skripal" in Salisbury and the "murder" of Glushkov in London.

The UK government was backed this week by allies France, Germany and the United States in its assessment that there was "no plausible alternative explanation" than that Russian Federation was responsible for the nerve agent attack.

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