04:57 GMT +324 October 2019
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    British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stands in front of Saint Basil's cathedral in Red square in Moscow on December 22, 2017 after a meeting with his Russian counterpart.

    Boris Johnson Slams Moscow's Response to Expulsion of Russian Diplomats From UK

    © AFP 2019 / Stefan Rousseau
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    UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson believes that Russia's retaliatory measures taken after London's decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats in connection with the Salisbury incident will only harm Russians.

    "Yesterday the Kremlin said it would close the British Council and our Consulate in St Petersburg. These futile measures will only punish ordinary Russians by depriving them of harmless opportunities to learn English and apply for UK visas," Johnson said in his op-ed article for The Sun newspaper published on Sunday.

    He also said that France, Germany and the United States supported London's version of Salisbury attack, while "Russia stands alone and isolated."

    Relations between Moscow and London deteriorated in early March after former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious in a shopping center in Salisbury.

    UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that it was "highly likely" that Russia was responsible for the incident, since the two were poisoned with a Novichok-class chemical agent that was developed in the Soviet Union. Moscow refuted the accusations, pointing to the lack of evidence.

    On Wednesday, May went on to announce a package of anti-Russian measures, including the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the country and the suspension of bilateral contacts between London and Moscow.

    On Saturday, Russia announced retaliatory measures against the United Kingdom, declaring 23 employees of the UK Embassy in Moscow personae non grata in response to London's move.

    Moscow also revoked its agreement on opening and operation of the UK Consulate General in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, according to the statement. In addition, a decision was made to terminate the activities of the British Council in Russia, since its "legal status has not been determined."


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    impact, relations, tension, expulsion, diplomats, Sergei Skripal, Boris Johnson, Russia, United Kingdom
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