Putin 'overwhelmingly likely' ordered ex-spy poison attack, United Kingdom diplomat says

Casey Dawson
March 18, 2018

Britain retaliated on Wednesday by announcing the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats (the largest expulsion since 1985 when Britain expelled 25), and the revocation of an invitation to Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov.

The Russian foreign minister this morning said the British response to the Salisbury spy attack was "irresponsible" and "not based on evidence".

The Prime Minister also welcomed the support of Germany, France and the US, which support her decision to expel the Russian diplomats.

Regulator Ofcom has said that if Skripal's poisoning is found to be an "unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom", it will reconsider whether RT is "fit and proper" to hold a license to operate in the country.

The statement comes as Britain seeks worldwide support to hold Russia accountable for the March 4 attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement on Britain's response to a March 4 nerve attack on a former Russian double agent, following a meeting of Britain's National Security Council, in the House of Commons in central London, March 14, 2018. She also announced a range of economic and diplomatic measures.

After Trump spoke with May on Tuesday, the White House said the president agreed with her that Russian Federation "must provide unambiguous answers regarding how this chemical weapon, developed in Russian Federation, came to be used in the U.K".

While Russia has vigorously denied involvement in the attack, western powers see it as the latest sign of alleged Russian meddling overseas. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in the Guardian that it's possible that "Russian mafia-like groups", rather than the Russian state, were responsible.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking a global coalition of countries to punish Moscow, and the U.S., France and Germany have already lined up against Russian Federation over the Skripal attack.

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The Russian embassy in London said the decision to expel its diplomats was "unacceptable, unjustified and short-sighted".

Haley called the crisis a "defining moment" for the U.N. and said the United States was solidly behind Britain.

In the statement, the four leaders said they shared the view of British investigators that "there is no plausible alternative explanation" for the attack. The pair remain in a critical condition.

She cast the UN's response to the Skripals' poisoning as a "defining moment-the credibility of this council will not survive if we fail to hold Russian Federation accountable".

When asked whether Russian Federation is planning to kick British diplomats out of the country, Mr Lavrov replied "definitely".

He said Britain had not invoked the alliance's Article 5 mutual defence clause.

He said: "You do understand that we, as polite people, will first deliver our response to the British counterparts". 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.

Announcing the measure, Mr Williamson said Russian Federation "should go away - it should shut up".

Speaking to the AP, he called it unlikely that some of the nerve agent could have gone missing in the years after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

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