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MOSCOW — Moscow will expel British diplomats in retaliation for a similar move made by London earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday, without specifying how many or any other measures in the deepening crisis between the two countries.
Asked by a journalist at a press conference if Russia would kick out British diplomats, Lavrov said simply “of course, we will.”
The confirmation comes as part of a delayed and still unfolding response to a variety of coordinated Western measures against Moscow following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain last week. The spy, 66-year-old Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were poisoned with a nerve agent identified by British authorities as one made only by Russia.
Russia has been coy about its potential responses since Wednesday, when British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats in London believed to be part of Russia’s intelligence network there. There has been much talk in Moscow of imminent and decisive responses, but so far nothing of substance has taken place.
The government has also been vague about its response to Washington’s expansion of sanctions against Russian individuals believed to have played a role in alleged cyber attacks and attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday Moscow’s would expand its own “black list” of Americans, adding that additional measures had not yet been ruled out. “Those [American] politicians are playing with fire,” he said.
The United States, France and Germany on Thursday formally backed Britain’s claims that Russia likely was responsible for the attack, calling it the “first offensive use of a nerve agent” in Europe since World War II.
In a statement, the four leaders said they shared the view of British investigators that “there is no plausible alternative explanation” for the attack. They added that “Russia’s failure to address the legitimate request by the U.K. government further underlines its responsibility.”
“It threatens the security of us all,” they added, without spelling out any possible further reprisals.
just wonder what is taking them so long?
131 were potentially exposed to the nerve agent
Hospital has also assessed 46 people who came forward expressing health concerns but they were not admitted