Russia has expelled 23 British diplomats and has given them one week to leave. The decision is seen as a retaliation to British expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats over charges of Russian involvement in the poisoning of its former spy Sergei Skripal with a military grade Novichok nerve agent. Moscow has also directed closure of British Council in Russia and has revoked permission to open a General Consulate in St Petersburg. British Council is responsible for strengthening cultural links between the two nations. Measures are significant as they are tough than expected and have been announced on the eve of the Presidential election in which Putin is expecting an easy victory. British Council has expressed grave disappointment over the news and has stated that it will remain committed to develop people-to-people ties in Russia.
The decisions were made after a meeting of Laurie Bristow, the British ambassador to Russia with Russian Foreign Ministry. Latter has stated that the steps are a response to the provocative actions and baseless allegations of Britain. In addition, it has warned London that Russia is completely prepared for any further steps if more unfriendly steps follow.
British PM has stated that she will consider the development along with the allies and will announce suitable next steps.