Russian Federation to expel 60 United States diplomats, close U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg

Russian Federation to expel 60 United States diplomats, close U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg

Russian Federation to expel 60 United States diplomats, close U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg

He said Britain had informed Moscow of the state of health of Yulia Skripal on Thursday and that Russian Federation had asked again for access to her as a citizen.

While the scale of the coordinated action was unprecedented, the decision of Paris and Berlin to limit expulsions to four diplomats each, in contrast to the 60 ordered out by the US, has stoked expectations in Russian Federation that France and Germany still want to work with Putin. The expulsions were a remarkable show of global unity and coordination, in solidarity with Britain, which had already forced 23 Russian officials to leave the country; Moscow responded by expelling 23 Britons.

The Foreign Ministry said the USA diplomats, including 58 from the embassy in Moscow and two from the consulate in Yekaterinburg, must leave Russian Federation by April 5. "We're reviewing our options", said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, who charged that the attack on the Skripals violated an global chemical weapons ban.

58 from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and two from the U.S. consulate in Yekaterinburg, were declared "persona non grata" for "activities incompatible with diplomatic status", it said in a press release.

Quoted by Russian media, Lavrov said U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman had been summoned on March 29 to the Foreign Ministry, where he was told that Russia is responding quid pro quo to the U.S. decision to order 60 Russian diplomats out.

Lavrov said Russian Federation was also mulling tit-for-tat responses to the other countries that have expelled its diplomats.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday that Britain's allegation of Russian involvement in the poisoning was a "swindle" and an "international provocation". Officials in Moscow accused London and Washington of pressuring other nations to sign up to an global campaign of "Russophobia" which, they said, could drag the world into a new Cold War.

The attack on 66-year-old Skripal and his daughter, which Britain has blamed on Russian President Vladimir Putin and says was caused by a Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok left on the door of their home in England, has driven relations between Russia and the West to a new post-Cold War low.

"As for the other countries, it's also all symmetrical measures as to the number of people who will be leaving Russian Federation from diplomatic missions, and that's all so far", Lavrov said.

Russian Federation will shut down the U.S. consulate in St Petersburg and expel the same number of envoys the USA and other countries expelled, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says.

Indeed, the measures might "not only" be symmetrical, he said.

He accused London of "forcing everyone to follow an anti-Russian course".

Lavrov said Moscow wanted to "establish the truth" over the poisoning and accused Britain of "making mockery of global law".

Lavrov said that Moscow called a meeting Wednesday of the secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to discuss the case.

After the poisoning, Britain reacted by announcing it would expel 23 Russian diplomats, suspend high-level diplomatic contact with Moscow and not send royals to the 2018 football World Cup hosted by Russia.

"We are counting on our Western partners not evading an honest conversation", Lavrov said.

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