PM expels 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation for spy poisoning

Prime Minister Theresa May sets out how the UK will retaliate against Russia for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.

  • Prime Minister Theresa May to expel 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation against for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
  • Russians under suspicion in UK face asset freeze.
  • Royal Family and government ministers will not attend the World Cup in Russia this summer.
  • United Nations Security Council to meet on Wednesday evening to discuss Russia's use of nerve agents.
  • Russia calls Britain's actions a "very serious provocation."

LONDON — The British government is to expel 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, Theresa May said today.

In a statement to Parliament, the prime minister accused the diplomats of being Russian spies.

"For those who wish to do us harm, my message is clear. You are not welcome here," May said.

She added: "This will be the single biggest expulsion for over thirty years and it reflects the fact that this is not the first time that the Russian State has acted against our country."

May also announced that the UK will freeze the assets of Russians living in the UK under suspicion of undermining the country's interest, saying there "is no place for their money in the UK."

She told MPs: "This was not just an act of attempted murder in Salisbury, nor an act against the UK, it is an affront to the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and it is an affront to the rules based on which we and our international partners depend."

The prime minister confirmed that neither members of the Royal Family or government minister will attend the upcoming World Cup in Russia, in which the England football team will participate.

Russia immediately warned Britain against making any further "provocation" against them.

The Russian Ambassador to the UK Sky News that Britain's actions were "unacceptable" and "a very serious provocation."

He also suggested that there would be a swift response from Russia to the expulsions. In a statement, a Russia spokesperson said that "We consider this hostile action as totally unacceptable, unjustified and shortsighted."

They added: "All the responsibility for the deterioration of the Russia-UK relationship lies with the current political leadership of Britain."

May's statement and actions received widespread support from all sides of the House of Commons, with the notable exception of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who questioned whether the prime minister had received sufficient evidence to blame Russia directly for the attack.

The prime minister addressed MPs after her deadline for Russia to give a "credible" explanation for the poisoning of Skripal passed at midnight on Tuesday.

The prime minister accused the Russian state of being guilty of an "unlawful use of force" against the UK.

"Their response has demonstrated complete disdain for these events. They have provided no credible explanation," she told MPs.

"No explanation as to how this agent came to be used in the United Kingdom; no explanation as to why Russia has an undeclared chemical weapons programme in contravention of international law.

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