Lavrov: Russia Will 'Of Course' Expel British Diplomats

Donald Trump exits the stage following a rally in Cedar Rapids Iowa

Donald Trump exits the stage following a rally in Cedar Rapids Iowa

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson yesterday also stepped up the rhetoric against Russia's government, directly linking the attack to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Geopolitical tensions are mounting since the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury earlier this month, in what Western powers see as the latest sign of increasingly aggressive Russian meddling overseas.

Johnson said the attack on Skripal and his daughter with a military-grade nerve toxin was most likely ordered by Putin himself.

The first use of a nerve agent on European soil since World War II is also a direct challenge to the wider Western alliance.

"I'm absolutely certain that Russian Federation has underestimated the resolve and unity of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies when we have implemented different kinds of sanctions over the last years", Mr Stoltenberg added.

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The Investigative Committee did not explain why it opened the probes, but Russian officials - including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov - have accused British authorties of failing to provide Moscow with information about their investigation into the nerve-agent exposure, and suggested that they had a right to be involved because Yulia Skripal is a Russian citizen.

After the Russian foreign minister announced on Friday that it would expel British diplomats, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Moscow's response "will be coming shortly". The British government's conclusion that it is "highly likely" that Russia carried out the attempted assassination of a former spy and his daughter follows by weeks a military assault, backed by artillery and tanks, by Russian irregulars on US positions in Syria. A lawyer for the Russian businessman said on March 13 that his client had died but that he was unaware of the circumstances, while a London police statement that contained no name but appreared to refer to Glushkov said officers were investigating an "unexplained" death.

He said Russia's recent provocations need a tough response, including action against Russian oligarchs with questionable ties who have used London as a safe haven.

RIA news agency quoted Russia's ambassador to Britain as saying the diplomats are due to leave London on 20 March. Perhaps he wanted it that way: He was head of Russia's spy agency, the FSB, at the time that Skripal allegedly supplied information to Britain, and had publicly vowed revenge.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn says in a newspaper column that politicians must not "rush way ahead of the evidence being gathered by the police".

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Boris Johnson chose to directly involve the Russian leader as he said the British government's quarrel was with him, not with the Russian people.

Russia's envoy at the OPCW has claimed the substance used could have come from either USA or British stockpiles.

Russia's envoy at the global chemical weapons watchdog says Britain and the US both have access to the nerve agent used in the poisoning of the ex-spy in Britain.

"They may be alive, maybe not, maybe nothing happened at all", he said.

Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom, confirmed that the 23 expelled diplomats would be leaving on 20 March, as ordered by Mrs May, but accused the Government of lying about the condition of the Skripals.

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Russia's foreign minister said Britain's defense minister "lacks education". Eight months after that attack, Britain finally expelled four Russian diplomats; but a full inquest, which concluded Putin was probably responsible for the killing, was not completed for nine years. The United States, France and Germany also condemned Russian Federation over the attack.

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