Russian Federation announces plan to expel 23 British diplomats

Some 180 troops including chemical warfare experts are in Salisbury to investigate the attempted murder of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom tweeted that she "forcefully rejects (the) unacceptable and unfounded allegation" adding that "Russia should answer United Kingdom questions instead". Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky called it an "absurd accusation".

Boris Johnson labelled Russia's counter-measures "futile" as the diplomatic row over the nerve agent attack on a Russian ex-spy rumbled on.

Laying the blame firmly at Russia's door and highlighting Moscow's support of the Assad regime in Syria following that government's use of chemical weapons against civilians, Haley told fellow diplomats the world had reached "a defining moment".

And Moscow is also plotting a response to the United States after Donald Trump's administration imposed sanctions on Russians allegedly involved in interfering with the 2016 USA elections and cyber-attacks.

Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Saturday reiterated Russian denials of involvement in the poisoning attack on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Johnson said Britain's National Security Council will meet this week to discuss "what further measures if any" the country will take.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain would consider its next steps alongside its allies in the coming days.

The Russian ambassador in London says Britain has behaved "in colonial style" in the showdown over the poisoning of an ex-spy. There's no evidence at this stage that his death and the attack on the Skripals are linked, it said.

Sergei Skripal's burgundy BMW is seen in suburban Salisbury, near a cemetery, where his wife and son are commemorated. Authorities have cordoned off several sites in and near Salisbury, 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of London as part of their probe. But the Investigative Committee said it would probe the case as a murder.

The British government said that it was expecting such a response from Russian Federation. The first use of a nerve agent on European soil since World War II is also a direct challenge to the wider Western alliance.

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But Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev blamed Britain for the escalating tensions.

Mrs May said the Government had "anticipated" a similar response to her decision to expel diplomats from London.

The Czech Republic has also rejected as "wholly unsubstantiated" and "highly speculative" claims that it was one of five countries most likely to have manufactured the nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

"It is possible that (Britain) will continue to respond; we are ready for this".

Speaking at a question-and-answer forum in Moscow, Lavrov did not provide a time frame but said the expulsions would take place "soon", state media reported.

"Rex Tillerson was the person that Donald Trump was relying on for Russian Federation policy", said Andrew Weiss, who held national security positions during the Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush administrations and now serves as vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"The British side has been warned that if more unfriendly actions against Russia follow, the Russian side reserves the right of taking other retaliation measures", the ministry added.

The pub and the restaurant: Mr Skripal and his daughter went for drinks at the Mill pub before dining at the Zizi restaurant before they were found collapsed.

It ordered the diplomats to leave within a week. "Prime Minister May's decision to expel the Russian diplomats is the level of response that many Americans have been craving from our own administration".

The UK's deputy UN ambassador, Jonathan Allen, told a special meeting of UN Security Council that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had been asked to verify its analysis that Moscow was behind the attack.

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