Russia Expels 23 British Diplomats, Escalating Row Over Ex-Spy's Poisoning

Police stand guard near a bench in Salisbury where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found after being poisoned with a nerve agent

Former Russian spy who became a double agent for Britain, Sergei V. Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, remain critically ill in hospital, after they were found unconscious on a bench in the Wiltshire city.

It also said it would halt the activities of the British Council, the country's global organisation for cultural relations, in Russian Federation.

Nearly immediately, Washington chose to endorse its "special partners" in London by parroting their dubious argument and said that Moscow is "likely responsible".

"We will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens and others on British soil from the Russian Government", she added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also joined the chorus of Western officials who are sure that Russian Federation was culpable in the Skripal case.

A post-mortem exam on the Russian exile, who had links to compatriots who died in mysterious circumstances in the United Kingdom, "gave the cause of death as compression to the neck", a police statement said.

However, the West apparently grew tired of such "flawless" reasoning and made a decision to come up with even more far-fetched arguments to blame Moscow.

Russia expelled the British diplomats in a retaliatory move over British accusations that the Kremlin orchestrated a nerve toxin attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter in southern England.

Others, however, turned out to be more inventive in their arguments. Both nations are members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which means that London is obliged to include Moscow in the investigation.

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Western powers see the nerve-agent attack as the latest sign of alleged Russian meddling overseas.

Britain, the United States, Germany and France have jointly called on Russia to explain the attack, while US President Donald Trump has said it looks as if the Russians were behind it. However, what this had to do with the Skripal case still remains a mystery.

Theresa May has said that Britain is considering its "next steps" in the wake of 23 British diplomats being expelled from Russian Federation.

"We have not raised any tensions in our relations, it was the decision by the British side without evidence", he told The Associated Press.

Mr Johnson said on Friday that it was "overwhelmingly likely" that President Putin personally ordered the nerve agent attack against the former Russian spy. He criticized politicians for expressing their "most freakish suspicions" and "pursuing their own conspiracy theories".

Moscow strongly denied any involvement in the poisoning and called Johnson's remarks "shocking" and "inexcusable".

Speaking after his meeting at the Foreign Office on Friday, British Ambassador Laurie Bristow said the, "crisis has arisen as a result of an appalling attack in the United Kingdom - the attempted murder of two people using a chemical weapon developed in Russian Federation".

British national flag flutters in front of the British Embassy with the Ukraine Hotel, right, in the background, in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 16, 2018.

The crisis erupted after Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were exposed to a Soviet-designed nerve agent on March 4 in the English city of Salisbury, leaving them in critical condition.

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