Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Russia Raises the Stakes in Spy Row

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Russia Raises the Stakes in Spy Row

Article excerpt

THE Russian foreign ministry has ordered Britain to reduce the number of diplomats in Moscow down to the same amount that Russia has in London as the row over the attempted assassination of a Russian spy in Salisbury continues.

The UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats in the wake of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia with the nerve agent Novichok.

A number of British allies have also ejected Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity following the attack.

So far, more than 150 Russian diplomats, some of whom are suspected spies, have been ordered to return home by countries including the US, Germany, France and Canada.

The Russian Embassy said yesterday it "insists" on the right to see Ms Skripal, 33, after it emerged on Thursday that she was improving rapidly.

She spent three weeks in a critical condition after being exposed to Novichok on March 4. The Russian Embassy said in a tweet: "Good news as Yulia Skripal is reported as recovering well. We insist on the right to see her, in accordance with the 1968 Consular Convention."

Ms Skripal's father remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital. The tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions were launched by Russia on Thursday.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would retaliate by expelling the same number of diplomats that each country had ejected.

The ministry said it summoned the British ambassador yesterday following the "provocative and unsubstantiated actions by Britain, which instigated the expulsion of Russian diplomats from various nations for no reason".

The British government was given 30 days to reduce its diplomatic personnel to the same number of diplomats that Russia has stationed in the UK.

The number of British diplomats that will have to leave Russia was not immediately clear. …

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