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Britain to expel 23 Russian diplomats, freeze Russian state assets
[LONDON] Britain will expel 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation for the nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday.
"Under the Vienna Convention, the United Kingdom will now expel 23 Russian diplomats who have been identified as undeclared intelligence officers," Mrs May told parliament. "They have just one week to leave." Mrs May said the biggest expulsions from London in 30 years would degrade Russian intelligence capabilities in Britain for years to come.
"We will freeze Russian state assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents," Mrs May said.
The British leader said she had come to the conclusion that Russia was culpable for the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found slumped unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in the genteel southern English city of Salisbury on March 4. They have been in a critical condition in hospital ever since.
"There is no alternative conclusion, other than that the Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter, and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury," Mrs May said. "This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom," she said.