Russian Federation calls UK's 'hostile' actions a provocation, vows response

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia

Britain's ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Saturday morning, where he was informed of Moscow's response to London's claims that Russia is behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former double agent, and his daughter, Yulia, on March 4 in Salisbury, UK.

Her comments followed a statement by British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday during which May said London would kick out the Russian diplomats in the biggest such expulsion since the Cold War.

Britain announced Wednesday it will expel nearly two dozen Russian diplomats, sever high-level bilateral contacts with Moscow and take both open and covert action against Kremlin meddling after the poisoning of a former spy, plunging United Kingdom. The spy, 66-year-old Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were poisoned with a nerve agent identified by British authorities as one made only by Russian Federation.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says it's "overwhelmingly likely" Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the use of a nerve agent against a former spy in the English city of Salisbury.

Tougher rhetoric came only on Wednesday evening, when White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders put out a statement saying the USA "stands in solidarity with its closest ally" and shares Britain's assessment that "Russia is responsible for the reckless nerve agent attack".

"I will never believe that this person or group of people. would not be seen after the commission of the crime", Zakharova told the Associated Press.

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The Investigative Committee said Friday it was ready to work with British authorities in the cases of Yulia Skripal and Nikolai Glushkov.

Mr Yakovenko said the expulsion of 40% of his diplomatic staff would make the activities of the London embassy "quite difficult", adding: "This really hurts Russia-Britain relations".

Earlier, Beijing said it hoped that Moscow and London will be able to settle the situation around the poisoning of Skripal on the basis of worldwide norms and mutual respect through dialogue.

The Labour leader, who opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, added: "In my years in Parliament I have seen clear thinking in an global crisis overwhelmed by emotion and hasty judgments too many times". It's the latest escalation in the clash between the two nations over the use of a military-grade nerve agent against a former Russian spy who is now a British citizen.

But it's unclear what, if anything, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation can do to put more pressure on Russian Federation.

At U.N. headquarters, deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was not in a position to attribute responsibility for the attack, but "he strongly condemns the use of any nerve agent or chemical weapons and hopes that the incident will be thoroughly investigated". In a separate action, the Trump administration issued sanctions on a number of Russian entities for a wide range of behavior, including attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

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Critics of the British government have long claimed that the reluctant to act against Russia because London's property market and financial sector are magnets for billions in Russian money.

The Russian ambassador in London says Britain has behaved "in colonial style" in the showdown over the poisoning of an ex-spy.

Russia, which denies any involvement in the incident, condemned May's decision as unacceptable and vowed a swift response.

Russian Federation has dismissed the accusations as "fairy tales" and denied any involvement in the attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, which landed the pair, along with an English police officer, in the hospital. A police officer was also harmed and remains in a serious condition.

"That fact demonstrates the most telling difference between Britain and Putin: we have friends across the world and he does not".

Skripal was granted refuge in the United Kingdom following a 2010 spy exchange between the US and Russian Federation.

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Theresa May has expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced that no Royal or government figures will attend this summer's World Cup in Russia.

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