Russia's United Kingdom diplomat expulsion 'doesn't change facts of matter': May

Members of the armed forces in protective suits investigate a property in Winterslow near Salisbury in Britain on March 12. EPA-EFE

Russian Federation was "in flagrant breach of worldwide law", she told her Conservative Party's spring forum, adding that Britain "will consider our next steps in the coming days".

Russia says it will retaliate against Britain's recently announced sanctions, saying that President Vladimir Putin will soon decide the best way to respond to the U.K.'s expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats. It also said it would halt the activities of the British Council, the country's worldwide organisation for cultural relations, in Russian Federation.

Specialist officers in protective suits prepare to secure the police forensic tent that had been blown over by the wind and is covering the bench where Sergei Skripal was found critically with his daughter on March 4 and were taken to hospital sparking a major incident, in Salisbury on March 8, 2018 in Wiltshire, England.

"A final decision [on retaliatory measures] will, of course, be made by the president of the Russian Federation", presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to state-run Tass media.

The American leadership's tone on the issue went through an abrupt change after a telephone conversation Tuesday night between Trump and the British prime minister, with the White House issuing a statement afterwards expressing solidarity with the U.K. According to a readout on the conversation from May's office, "President Trump said the US was with the U.K. all the way", as NPR reported. The organization has been operating in Russian Federation ever since the fall of the Soviet Union.

"It is our view that when political or diplomatic relations become hard, cultural relations and educational opportunities are vital to maintain on-going dialogue between people and institutions", it said in a statement.

Russia's envoy to London, Alexander Yakovenko, said he had received a diplomatic note informing him that the Skripals were in a critical condition but he also accused Britain of "hiding" further details.

Western powers see the attack as the latest sign of alleged Russian meddling overseas.

Putin, a former KGB spy who is poised to win a fourth term in an election on Sunday, has so far only said publicly that Britain should get to the bottom of what has happened. Nikitina would hate to see Russia become culturally and politically isolated from the rest of the world but reflects that for Russians, living through adversity is a part of life and perhaps contributes to a certain stoicism in their response: "We have been through so many crises".

Putin has barely weighed in on the row, telling a BBC reporter this week: "Sort things out from your side and then we will discuss this with you".

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday that Moscow would expand its own "black list" of Americans, adding that additional measures have not yet been ruled out.

He suggested that the possibility that the Russians had lost control of the risky nerve agent - which May floated Monday but has since discounted - could not be excluded. She said Britain is taking a tough line because of frustration at recent advances of Russian-backed Syrian government forces against Western-backed rebels.

Russian Federation argues it has turned the tide of the global fight against Islamic State extremists by lending military backing to Syria's government.

Katerina Nikitina, founder of "Zima", a magazine for Russian-speaking people in United Kingdom, has spent some time speaking with people in the community in recent days and found that for the most part, they were calm: "Normal people understand that this is politics".

The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Sweden on Saturday all rejected a suggestion by Zakharova that the nerve agent might have originated in their countries.

Trump has frequently questioned a January 2017 finding by USA intelligence agencies that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 campaign using hacking and propaganda in an effort eventually aimed at tilting the race in Trump's favor. Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky called it an "absurd accusation".

Counter-terrorism police have renewed their appeal for witnesses who may have seen Mr Skripal's burgundy BMW auto in Salisbury on 4 March.

Where did the nerve agent originate?

Also for Dmitri Gololobov, a Russian lawyer in London and visiting professor at the University of Westminster, taking a strong stance with the Russian business elite in the United Kingdom would be a positive development: "As Boris Johnson said, the United Kingdom should confiscate oligarch assets, their mansions or whatever they like, just to show its firm intention to fight Russian corruption and crime and oppose Russian influence here".

A British inquiry into the 43-year-old's death said Moscow had "probably" ordered the poisoning of Litvinenko, who lived in exile in Britain.

Russian Federation also suspected foul play in Glushkov's death and opened its own inquiry on Friday.

Britain will also cancel high-level contacts with Russian Federation, said May.

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