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Britain to expel 23 Russian diplomats in nerve agent case

IANS  |  London 

Britain has ordered the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats believed involved in espionage-related activities, the British announced on Wednesday, in the first wave of measures against for a against a former double agent.

Theresa May, speaking to Parliament, also outlined a range of other steps, including a halt to high-level meetings with Russian officials and calling off a planned visit to Britain by Russian Sergei Lavrov, reports.

May repeated the conclusion of British investigators that had either deployed or lost control of dangerous nerve agents used in the attack -- targeting the former and his daughter -- and called Russia's defiant response has "demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events".

"Instead they have treated the use of a military grade in with sarcasm, contempt and defiance," she told lawmakers while announcing the reprisal measures.

She gave no further details on the Russian diplomats ordered expelled, but said they were deemed "undeclared intelligence officers". She called it the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats from Britain since Cold War-era retribution in the 1970s.

May said more counter-measures were being considered. She said Britain sought support from the US, EU and NATO, but did not outline any requests she made from allies to join in the reprisals.

Earlier, also called for an urgent meeting of the to update members on the investigation into the attack. Russia, as part of the permanent five nations on the council, holds veto power over any possible UN moves to come.

"It is not in our national interest to break off all dialogue between Britain and But in the aftermath of this appalling act against our country this relationship cannot be the same," May said in Parliament.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 14 2018. 19:04 IST