London after assassination attempt on ex-spy: russian diplomats must leave

Great Britain expels 23 Russian diplomats from the country. They have one week to leave the country. Moscow declares itself wrongly accused.

For 23 Russian diplomats, the only way out is from Britain Photo: reuters

Britain will expel a total of 23 Russian diplomats over the poison attack on ex-double agent Sergei Skripal. Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement in parliament in London on Wednesday. The diplomats would have one week to leave the country. Previously, Russia had let a British ultimatum to clarify the attack pass; Moscow declares itself unjustly accused.

May had demanded that Moscow comment on the origin of the nerve agent Novichok used in the attack by 1 a.m. CET on Wednesday night. The substance had once been developed in the Soviet Union and is one of the most dangerous neurotoxins.

Russia will not be talked to in the language of ultimatums, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had said in Moscow on Wednesday morning. One had told London via diplomatic channels that Russia was innocent of the attack.

Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, had been discovered unconscious on a park bench in the small southern English town of Salisbury on March 4. They are still in critical condition. Skripal had spied for the British as an officer of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. He was convicted in Russia and released to Britain in a major agent swap in 2010.

The assassination is reminiscent of the case of ex-agent and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with radioactive polonium in London in 2006. The traces of the perpetrators also led to Moscow.

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