Lavrov on Skripal Case: Russia to Expel UK Diplomats in Response


Moscow will expel British diplomats in response to London's move to kick out 23 Russian officials over the poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday also accused Britain of violating global law, and said Britain's defence minister "lacks education".

The Russian foreign ministry said it was taking the measures in response to what it called the U.K.'s "provocative actions and unfounded accusations" over the poisoning case.

Lavrov suggested that the poisoning might have motivated by a desire to complicate Russia's hosting of this summer's soccer World Cup.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russian news agencies as calling Johnson's statement a "shocking and inexcusable breach of diplomatic propriety".

The UK's deadline has now passed for Russian Federation to explain itself over accusations it was behind the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent.

It added: "Our concerns are also heightened against the background of a pattern of earlier irresponsible Russian behaviour".

"It is an assault on United Kingdom sovereignty and any such use by a state party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of global law", the four nations said Thursday in a statement.

Russian Federation declared previous year that it had completed destruction of its chemical weapons stockpiles and chided the United States for lagging behind.

Moscow and London have both ordered diplomats to be expelled in the deepening dispute.

"In his campaign rally in Crimea today, President Putin reiterated Russia's false claims to Ukrainian territory in another open admission that the Russian government disdains the global order and disrespects the territorial integrity of sovereign nations", Nauert said.

But he noted the attack came against the "backdrop of a pattern of reckless behaviour" by Russian Federation - a point also made in the US, British, German and French statement.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the attack in Britain was part of a pattern of reckless behaviour from Russian Federation over many years.

When asked how Britain might respond to any retaliation, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said that Russian Federation "should go away; it should shut up".

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, an ex-commander of the British Army's chemical, biological, radiation and nuclear regiment, said Novichok was only ever manufactured at one site, a military laboratory at Shikhany in central Russian Federation. He said Britain could count on NATO's solidarity, but said there had been no request by London to activate the alliance's mutual defence clause.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley blistered Russian Federation on Wednesday at the UN Security Council, saying the US "believes Russian Federation is responsible for the attack".

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.