Russia's Foreign Ministry announced retaliatory measures against British diplomats: 23 Britons are to be expelled from the Russian Federation. In addition, Russia closes the Consulate General of Britain in St. Petersburg and shuts down the British Council.
In the morning of March 17, British Ambassador Laurie Bristow was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, where he was informed of the measures. Britain suspects Russia of organising a chemical attack in Salisbury, as a result of which former double agent of the Russian Central Intelligence Directorate (GRU) Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned. At the same time, the British authorities refuse to cooperate with Russia to investigate the accident, nor do they want to explain why the accident happened not too far from a secret chemical laboratory.
Twenty-three British diplomats will have to leave Russian within a week. In addition, Russia is closing the British Consulate General in St. Petersburg. The timing for the move will be determined "in accordance with international norms," and employees will be given time to complete their work. To crown it all, Russia's retaliatory measures have affected the British Council - the agency responsible for the organisation of educational and cultural programs. The British Council in Russia will be closed "due to an uncertain legal status."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on March 16 that Moscow would expel British diplomats. "At first, we, like polite people, will convey our answer to our British colleagues, who rush to grab a microphone to announce that Russia is to blame for everything," Lavrov said earlier.