British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday said Britain will suspend high-level bilateral contact with Russia after naming Moscow as responsible for the nerve agent attack against a former Russian double agent in England.
May’s announcement comes hours after Moscow rejected her “unfounded accusations” over the poisoning of a Russian former double agent on UK soil.
The Prime minister said Britain will also expel 23 Russian diplomats and revoke an invitation to Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, to visit the country, adding that Russia was “culpable” for the poisoning.
Relations between the two countries have deteriorated rapidly in the past 10 days since ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were attacked with a nerve agent in sleepy Salisbury, southwest England.
The diplomats “have been identified as undeclared intelligence officers,” May said, giving them one week to leave the UK in the “single biggest expulsion for over 30 years.”
Britain on Tuesday gave Moscow till the end of the day to respond to the allegations, threatening a “full range” of measures.
But Russia defied the deadline and President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman on Wednesday rejected Britain’s claim, saying they are “unfounded accusations that are not based on evidence, and a language of ultimatums”.
“We are hoping that common sense will prevail,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters.