Russia: "The Russian side reserves the right to take further retaliatory measures"

19 March 2018, 12:15 | Andres Norman

REUTERS Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS  Gonzalo Fuentes

The United States, France and Germany joined Britain on Thursday in condemning Russian Federation for the nerve-agent poisoning of a former spy, calling it an "assault on U.K. sovereignty", as the Kremlin vowed to expel British diplomats soon in response to London's moves against Moscow.

Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, said the prime minister's plans to sanction Russia, including its decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats from the United Kingdom, was extraordinarily risky.

The US treasury department said the use of a military-grade nerve agent in the Salisbury incident "further demonstrates the reckless and irresponsible conduct of its (Russia's) government".

The British Council's office in Russia will also be closed and permission for the reopening of the British consulate in St Petersburg withdrawn, Moscow's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, which goes further than the UK's pledge this week to expel 23 Russian diplomats.

It ordered the diplomats to leave within a week.

"We will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens and others on British soil from the Russian Government", she added. This is written in the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Great Britain.

Responding, Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the accusations were "shocking and unforgivable".

Russian chemist Vil Mirzayanov, whose claims of Russian complicity have now been widely circulated in Western media, was among those scientists who left Russia and continued their work overseas, Shulgin said.

The Telegraph cites anonymous sources close to investigators, who reportedly believe that the poison (that left the spy in critical condition) was planted in his daughter's suitcase while departing from Moscow.

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Britain's National Security Council is due to meet early next week to consider London's next steps.

The leaders described the poisoning as "the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War", adding that Russia's actions "threaten the security of us all".

When the Skripal crisis erupted, he said on Facebook that the "Novichok" formula had only been published in his book 'State Secrets: An Insider's Chronicle of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program, ' and alleged that only Russia could've used such a nerve agent to attack Skripal.

The representatives of Russia's Foreign Ministry added that the British Council is not anymore functioning in Russian Federation.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday Moscow had already decided on retaliatory measures, which she said Britain would be informed of in the near future.

Mr Bristow, speaking to reporters after being summoned, said the United Kingdom would "always do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies and our values against an attack of this sort".

President Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May said "there is no plausible alternative explanation" to Russian responsibility.

On the same day the British police launch a murder probe into Glushkov's death.

UK-Russia relations have been fractious ever since the assassination of another former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, in 2006.

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