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Britain is expelling 23 Russian diplomats after ex-spy poisoning

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons on Monday March 12, 2018 in London, England about the Salisbury attack, saying the government has concluded it is "highly likely" Russia is responsible for the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. (PA Wire/Abaca Press/TNS)
March 14, 2018

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is retaliating against Russia and kicking out 23 Russian diplomats following a nerve agent poison attack on a Russian ex-spy and his daughter.

Russia is suspected of the attempted assassination of a former spy and his daughter, after last week they were both found poisoned in England.

Russia said the accusations were “nonsense,” and it ignored a midnight deadline to explain how the nerve agent was used in the attack.

Britain is also expected to cut off all high-level contacts with Moscow. May said Wednesday the government will also freeze any Russian assets in the U.K. and cancel high-level bilateral meetings. It will also cancel any government and Royal family trips to the World Cup in Russia.

The actions are prompted by the attempted poison assassination, and are likely also prompted by another recent event – a former KGB agent, Andrey Lugovoy, has been linked to a dead Russian businessman who was found in London with “strangulation marks” on Monday; the former agent is also accused of poisoning Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko with polonium.

U.K. police revealed last Wednesday that a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned by a nerve agent in England, which raised speculation that the Russian government ordered the “targeted” assassination attempt.

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, “were targeted specifically.” Both fell ill and are thought to be in serious condition.

Some emergency workers who responded to the scene where the two were found are now sick, and one police officer “is now also in a serious condition in [the] hospital,” reports said.

Skripal is a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who was convicted of selling secrets to Great Britain in 2006, and was then sent to Britain in 2010 as part of a prisoner swap.

He took ill on Sunday and his conditions continued to worsen.