ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — The Latest on the fallout from the Russian ex-spy poisoning (all times local):
The Russian Foreign Ministry says it has ordered Britain to reduce the number of its diplomats in Moscow to the level that Russia has in London, firing another salvo in a diplomatic war over the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain.
The ministry said it summoned the British ambassador Friday to hand him a protest over the “provocative and unsubstantiated actions by Britain, which instigated the expulsion of Russian diplomats from various nations for no reason.” It said Friday that London has a month to reduce its diplomatic personnel to the same number of diplomats that Russia has in Britain.
That number wasn’t immediately clear.
Two dozen countries, including the U.S. and many EU nations, and NATO have ordered out more than 150 Russian diplomats this week in a show of solidarity with Britain over the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter that London blamed on Russia. Moscow has denied involvement and announced Thursday that it would expel the same number of diplomats from each nation.
The Russian Foreign Ministry says it is summoning ambassadors from the countries that expelled Russian diplomats over the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain to serve them notices about Moscow’s response.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced Thursday that Moscow would expel the same number of diplomats from each of the nations that ordered Russian diplomats out. The Foreign Ministry said it was summoning ambassadors from those nations Friday to announce retaliatory measures.
Earlier this week, two dozen countries, including the U.S. and many EU nations, and NATO have expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. A hospital treating them said Thursday the woman was improving rapidly and was now in stable condition, though her father remained in critical condition.
The Kremlin says it remains open to normalizing ties with the U.S. and other nations despite Moscow’s quid pro quo response to their expulsion of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in Britain.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that Moscow was forced to retaliate after the expulsion of more than 150 Russian diplomats by two dozen countries, including the U.S. and many EU nations, and NATO. Peskov said that “Russia remains open for developing good ties.”
Moscow said it would expel the same number of diplomats from each country that ordered Russian diplomats out. It summoned the U.S. ambassador to announce the closure of the American consulate in St. Petersburg and the expulsion of 60 U.S. diplomats in a tit-for-tat response to Washington’s moves.
U.S. Consulate staff in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, are preparing to wind up operations after the Russian government ordered the consulate’s closure.
Russia on Thursday announced the expulsion of more than 150 diplomats, including 60 Americans, in response to mass expulsions of Russian diplomats by Western countries over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.
Russia also ordered the closure of the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg.
An Associated Press reporter on Friday saw consulate staff carrying boxes from the building and loading them into a van. Several mini-vans drove out of the consulate while security also detained a man who threw a paper coffee cup at the building.