Russia summons Western diplomats to announce spy rift expulsions

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MOSCOW:Russia summoned a slew of senior Western diplomats on Friday to tell them how many of their embassy officials it was expelling in a worsening standoff with the West over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.

Moscow said on Thursday it was expelling 60 U.S. diplomats and would eject scores from other countries that had joined London and Washington in censuring Moscow over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Britain and Russia have already expelled 23 of each other’s diplomats over the first known use of a military-grade nerve agent on European soil since World War Two, but Laurie Bristow, Britain’s ambassador, was summoned again on Friday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Bristow had been told London had just one month to cut its diplomatic contingent in Russia to the same size as the Russian mission in Britain.

It was not immediately clear if that meant a serious cut in staff numbers. A spokeswoman for the British Foreign Office said Russia’s response was regrettable and that Moscow was in flagrant breach of international law over the killing of the former spy. APP/AFP

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