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UK PM says Russia responsible for attack on ex-spy; expels 23 Russian diplomats

Press Trust of India  |  London 

British today held responsible for the attack against a former Russian and his daughter as she expelled 23 Russian diplomats and suspended high-level bilateral contact.

Former Russian Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found collapsed after being poisoned last week. Both remain in a serious condition along with a who came in contact with the same substance.

denies being involved in the attempted murder of the former and his daughter.

"The Russian state was culpable of the attempted murder" of spy and his daughter, May told lawmakers.

She said Britain will suspend high-level bilateral contact with and revoke an invitation to Russian to visit the UK.

The announced that Britain will expel 23 Russian diplomats, saying they have one week to leave the UK.

She identified those diplomats as "undeclared intelligence officers", reported.

Moscow, which had been given an ultimatum to provide a "credible response" over how a Russian-made came to be used on British soil, had warned of "an equal and opposite reaction" against any UK reprisals.

The reprisals follow days of diplomacy since May first informed Parliament that there was enough evidence to conclude that it is "highly likely" that Russia is behind the of Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury on March 4.

Russia's record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations; the government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal, she had said.

"It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk. And we will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil, she added, giving a Tuesday midnight deadline to respond on the circumstances surrounding the attack.

US Donald Trump, as well as (NATO) and (EU) allies including Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, have since come out in support of the UK and offered support.

Downing Street said the British received the backing of Trump, who agreed in a phone call that "must provide unambiguous answers as to how this came to be used".

A added that France's and German had also condemned the attack and offered support to the UK, as well as Estonia, and the bordering Russia.

Russia, however, has insisted that it is being blamed unfairly, with the in the UK tweeting that the ambassador, who had been summoned to the (FCO) for an explanation, had branded the actions of the UK authorities as a clear provocation.

Russian has accused Britain of "playing politics" and ignoring an international agreement on He had said would cooperate if it received a formal request for clarification from the UK under the Convention, which sets a 10-day time limit for a response.

Meanwhile, Skripal, and his daughter remain critically ill in hospital.

A former Russian military colonel, Skripal was convicted of treason in 2006 and jailed for 13 years for selling secrets to MI6, which had recruited him in the 1990s.

The with Russian military intelligence GRU, was pardoned in a spy swap in 2010 and settled in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

A week after he and his daughter were found collapsed on a bench of a shopping centre in the city, Britain's public health authorities had asked hundreds of people who were at a restaurant and pub linked with the of the Russian spy to clean up their possessions to remove any traces of the deadly nerve agent.

The poison used in the attack has been identified as belonging to a group of known as Novichok', which means newcomer and was used by the during the Cold War era in 1970s and 1980s.

Like most nerve agents, it has the effect of blocking messages from the nerves to the muscles in the body, which leads to a collapse of body functions and ultimately death by asphyxiation.

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

First Published: Wed, March 14 2018. 18:55 IST