Moscow has responded after Theresa May announced that Russian diplomats were to be expelled from the UK. In a statement the Russian Embassy said:
‘On March 14 Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko was summoned to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he was informed that 23 diplomats were declared personae non-gratae.
‘We consider this hostile action as totally unacceptable, unjustified and shortsighted. ‘All the responsibility for the deterioration of the Russia-UK relationship lies with the current political leadership of Britain.’ In the biggest expulsion since the cold war, Britain will kick out 23 Russian diplomats and break off high-level contacts with the Kremlin over the nerve-agent attack on a former spy and his daughter in an English town.
Prime Minister Theresa May informed lawmakers that the 23 diplomats, who have been identified as undeclared intelligence officers, have a week to leave.
In an oral statement to the House of Commons, Theresa May told MPs that Russia had responded to her demand for an explanation of events in Salisbury with ‘sarcasm, contempt and defiance’.
Mrs May said: ‘Their response has demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events.’ Russia had failed to provide any ‘credible’ explanation of events and of why it has ‘an undeclared chemical weapons programme in contravention of international law’, she said. Mrs May said that the UK was suspending high-level contacts with Russia and that dignitaries, including members of the royal family, will not attend this summer’s World Cup.