Russia Boots 23 British Diplomats In Retaliation Against UK

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has said Russia is guilty of attempted murder on British soil

View Slideshow U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has said Russia is guilty of attempted murder on British soil. PA AP

What began as two people suddenly taken ill on a Sunday afternoon two weeks ago has turned into an worldwide diplomatic crisis pitting Britain and the western world against Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation.

The ministry also revoked its agreement on opening and operation of the UK Consulate General in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, according to the statement.

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia were exposed to a nerve agent in the city of Salisbury. They remain in critical condition.

Writing in the Sun on Sunday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described the closures as "futile" and said they would "only punish ordinary Russians" by depriving them of opportunities to learn English and apply for visas to visit Britain. Putin's spokesman denounced the claim.

"Due to the unregulated status of the British Council in Russian Federation, its activity is halted", the foreign ministry said.

Russian Federation has also said it is opening a murder probe after Glushkov was found dead at his London home. "It is our view that when political or diplomatic relations become hard, cultural relations and educational opportunities are vital to maintain on-going dialogue between people and institutions".

Britain's National Security Council is due to meet early next week to consider London's next steps.

The 29-member North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance expresses solidarity with Britain over what it calls the first offensive use of a nerve agent on the military alliance's territory since World War II. The tensions threaten to overshadow Putin's expected re-election Sunday for another six-year presidential term.

Johnson said technical experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will travel to Britain on Monday and will test samples of the substance used in the Salisbury poisoning in an worldwide laboratory.

'It is Russian Federation that is in flagrant breach of worldwide law and the Chemical Weapons Convention'.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced it was giving the 23 diplomats one week to leave the country.

Britain has escalated a war of words with Russian Federation over the incident in recent days.

"Any reasonable man would understand that it's just sheer nonsense, complete rubbish to think that anyone in Russian Federation could do anything like that in the run-up to the presidential election and the World Cup", he said. Topping the list was Britain itself - the other three, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sweden.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom tweeted that she "forcefully reject (s) unacceptable and unfounded allegation" adding that "Russia should answer United Kingdom questions instead".

The current story began with the assassination attempt of a Russian spy in the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and his daughter who were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, UK.

Britain is accusing Russian Federation of manufacturing and stockpiling a deadly nerve agent in violation of worldwide law.

Maria Zakharova said a large number of ex-Soviet scientists had gone to live in the West "taking with them the technologies that they were working on".

On Saturday, Russia's ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said Moscow "had nothing to do" with the attack, accusing Johnson of "acting in an inappropriate manner" by pointing the finger at Putin.

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