Russian Federation to expel 23 United Kingdom diplomats in spy row

Russia summons British ambassador as it readies to expel diplomats

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.

"Twenty three diplomatic staff at the British embassy in Moscow are declared persona non grata and to be expelled within a week", a foreign ministry statement said.

The statement said the government could take further measures if Britain takes any more "unfriendly" moves toward Russian Federation.

The U.K. has accused Russian Federation of bearing responsibility for the attack, which British officials say involved a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed secretly by Russian Federation.

The British Council on Saturday voiced deep disappointment after Moscow halted its activities in Russian Federation in tit-for-tat measures announced following the poisoning of a former double agent on British soil.

Britain's government said the move was expected, and that it doesn't change their conviction that Russian Federation was behind the poisoning of ex-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.

British police said there is no apparent link between the attack on Glushkov and the poisoning of the Skripals, but both have raised alarm in the West at a time when Russian Federation is increasingly assertive on the global stage and facing investigations over alleged interference in the Donald Trump's election as US president.

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

"We will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens and others on British soil from the Russian Government".

Russian Federation was "in flagrant breach of global law", she told her Conservative Party's spring forum, adding that Britain "will consider our next steps in the coming days".

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British diplomats working in the embassy in Russian Federation have been given a week to leave the country.

Russia's envoy to London, Alexander Yakovenko, said he had received a diplomatic note informing him that the Skripals were in a critical condition but he also accused Britain of "hiding" further details. The 67-year-old had been one of Russia's most powerful figures in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Following the Salisbury incident, the British government has also pledged to re-examine 14 deaths on United Kingdom soil following a report that they could have been carried out by Moscow or the Russian mafia.

Russian Federation also suspects foul play in Glushkov's death and opened its own inquiry Friday.

United Kingdom police renewed their appeal Saturday for people who may have seen Sergei Skripal's burgundy BMW auto on the morning of Sunday, March 4, to share what they know. Neil Basu, the Assistant Commissioner, said that there were an additional 35 people who got admitted following the incident.

Separately on Friday, police in London launched a murder investigation into the death this week of a Russian associate of late tycoon Boris Berezovsky, but said nothing at this stage suggested a link to the Skripal case.

London's Metropolitan Police later announced their own murder investigation, saying Glushkov had suffered compression of the neck.

New tensions have also surfaced over the death Monday of a London-based Russian businessman, Nikolai Glushkov.

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

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