PM TM’s Bold Move: UK to expel 23 Russian Diplomats
Prime Minister Theresa May has today announced a series measures to “send a clear message” to Russia after a suspicious attack on former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal in Salisbury on 4 March 2018.
The Prime Minister has taken a particularly strong stance, identifying 23 “undeclared intelligence officers” from the Russian Embassy in London and giving them one week to leave the country.
Mrs May, addressing the House of Commons appeared to show strength as she announced the following measures:
- Expulsion of 23 diplomats – who have one week to leave
- Increase checks on private flights, customs and freight
- Freezing of Russian state assets where there is evidence they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents
- Ministers and Royal Family will boycott the Fifa World Cup in Russia later this year
- Suspend all planned high level bi-lateral contacts between the UK and Russia
Russia has continued to deny being involved in the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and refused to meet Mrs May’s midnight deadline to co-operate in the case, which has prompting Mrs May’s address in the House of Commons today.
Mrs May told MPs that Russia had provided “no explanation” as to how the nerve agent came to be used in the UK, describing Moscow’s response as one of “sarcasm, contempt and defiance”. The PM, who was earlier briefed by senior intelligence chiefs in Downing Street, added there was “no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable” for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter, saying that it was “tragic” that Russian President Putin had “chosen to act in this way”.
The Russian Embassy have responded by saying the Prime Minister’s move is “unacceptable, unjustified and short-sighted”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Britain of “playing politics” and ignoring an international agreement on chemical weapons. He said Moscow would co-operate if it received a formal request for clarification from the UK under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which sets a 10-day time limit for a response.
The UK is to brief the UN Security Council on the investigation at 19:00 GMT, and earlier met Nato’s North Atlantic Council.
Nato allies have backed Theresa May throughout the process expressing “deep concern” at the use of a nerve agent reiterating that this is a “clear breach of international norms and agreements”.
The Prime Minister has also backed by European leaders, including Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron about her stance on the issue.
Former spy Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, 33, remain critically ill in hospital. Det Sgt Nick Bailey also fell ill responding to the incident, and is in a serious but stable condition, but is thought to be improving.