Britain and its allies on Thursday blamed Moscow directly for a poison attack on a double agent in England, escalating diplomatic tensions as Washington separately announced sanctions against Russia for allegedly meddling in its elections.
Leaders of Britain, along with the US, Germany and France have released a joint statement against poisoning of ex-spy as “an assault on UK sovereignty” and saying it is highly likely Russia was behind it.
Russia on Friday said that it will expel British diplomats and halt high-level meetings with the U.K. Russia hasn’t yes said who will be expelled, and when.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov asked to expect a Russian response “shortly” to Britain’s expulsion of Russian diplomats and accused Britain of violating international law and “common sense.”
“A final decision [on retaliatory measures] will, of course, be made by the Russian president. There is no doubt that he will choose the variant that best of all corresponds to the interests of the Russian Federation.”
Peskov also said that Russia is “perplexed and does not comprehend the British leadership’s stance” and insisted the “accusations are unsubstantiated”.
Russia’s foreign minister said Britain’s defense minister “lacks education.”
Geopolitical tensions are mounting since the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury earlier this month, in what Western powers see as the latest sign of increasingly aggressive Russian meddling abroad.
The tensions threaten to overshadow Putin’s expected re-election Sunday for another six-year term. “We have never encountered this level of discussion on the global stage,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, saying he’s been surprised by the British reaction.