Thursday, 15 March 2018

Theresa May Expels 23 Russian Diplomats In Response To Spy Poisoning

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting with officials in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, Russia, Tuesday, March 13, 2018. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Theresa May has expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the UK in retaliation for the Salisbury nerve agent attack. They have just one week to leave the country, the Prime Minister has told the House of Commons.

After the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, four Russian diplomats were expelled from the UK, the PM said. In her statement she also said that the UK was suspending high-level contacts with Russia. Dignitaries, including members of the royal family, will not attend this summer’s World Cup, she said. Sergei Skripal with his daughter Yulia Military personnel at the South Western Ambulance Service station in Harnham, near Salisbury, as police and members of the armed forces probe the suspected nerve agent attack

Sergei Skripal with his daughter Yulia.
The nerve agent attack has increased already hostile relations between Theresa May and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, pictured in 2016 (Picture: Getty) May attacked the response of Russia to the nerve agent attack (Picture: AP) May told MPs that Russia had responded to her demand for an explanation of events in Salisbury with ‘sarcasm, contempt and defiance’. ‘Their response has demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events,’ she said. Russia had failed to provide any ‘credible’ explanation of events and of why it has ‘an undeclared chemical weapons programme in contravention of international law’, she said.

The expulsion of the 23 diplomats, identified as undeclared intelligence officers, is the biggest single expulsion for over 30 years, May said. She added it would degrade Russian intelligence capabilities in Britain for years to come. ‘We will freeze Russian state assets wherever we have evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents,’ said May. ‘And, led by the National Crime Agency, we will continue to bring all the capabilities of UK law enforcement to bear against serious criminals and corrupt elites. ‘There is no place for these people – or their money – in our country.’

May said the government would ‘urgently develop proposals’ for new legislative powers to ‘harden our defences against all forms of hostile state activity’. She said: ‘This will include the addition of a targeted power to detain those suspected of hostile state activity at the UK border. ‘This power is currently only permitted in relation to those suspected of terrorism.’ The PM has also asked Home Secretary Amber Rudd to consider whether there is a need for new counter-espionage powers to ‘clamp down on the full spectrum of hostile activities of foreign agents in our country’.

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