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Russia expels over 50 more British diplomats

A view of the Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Moscow on March 29, 2018 (photo by AFP)

Russia has ordered the expulsion of over 50 more British diplomats in a dispute over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom.

On Friday, British Ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow was again summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry and was told that London had one month to cut its diplomatic contingent in Russia to the same size as the Russian mission in Britain.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Reuters on Saturday that it meant Britain would have to cut “a little over 50” of its diplomats in Russia.

“We asked for parity. The Brits have [a little over] 50 diplomats more than the Russians,” she said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova speaks to the media in Moscow, Russia, March 29, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Russia had already expelled 23 British diplomats to reciprocate the UK’s earlier expulsion of as many Russian diplomatic personnel.

Ties between Moscow and London hit a new low after Britain accused Russia of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, without offering any proof.

Russia has denied any involvement in the incident, which occurred on March 4 in the British city of Salisbury. The Skripals are being treated in a UK hospital.

The UK claims the nerve agent allegedly used in the poisoning was Novichok, which was developed in the former Soviet Union, basing its accusations against Moscow on that assertion.

Moscow says the substance could have originated in the countries studying Novichok, including the UK itself, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Sweden.

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