Russian president Vladimir Putin didn’t respond calmly when UK Prime Minister Theresa May made the decision to expel Russian diplomats from the United Kingdom. Putin warned that the Prime Minister has chosen “confrontation” with Moscow as tensions soar.
According to The Express UK, earlier today May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats as part of a range of measures in response to the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. “The UK government concluded it was highly likely Russia was responsible for this attack,” May said. That announcement stuck in Vladimir Putin’s craw.
It also outraged Putin’s foreign ministry officials in Moscow and Russia’s federation council speaker Valentina Matviyenko called on Putin to respond “promptly and toughly”. According to Russia’s TASS news agency, Matviyenko said, ”Britain has blamed Russia without putting forward any charges. That’s unprecedented. I believe that this is utterly something unheard of in diplomatic practice. We, Russia, must react promptly, toughly and proportionately. It is obvious that this is a mean and shameless provocation with a poorly conceived and written scenario of an ostensibly Russian connection and anti-presidential campaign arranged day by day, aimed at dictating a negative image of Russia to the world community. Nobody can answer an ordinary, simple question,”
The Russian Foreign Ministry also put out a public statement on Wednesday. “We believe that the statement British Prime Minister Theresa May made in the parliament on March 14, concerning measures to punish Russia for its alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, is an unprecedentedly blatant provocation, which undermines the foundations of dialogue between our countries,” the statement reads.
Investigators claim to have identified the substance used to poison Skripal and his daughter was a chemical used by Russia during the Cold War. Skripal, a former Russian spy turned MI6 agent, and his daughter are currently in a critical condition after they were found unconscious in Salisbury, Wiltshire, shortly after 4pm on Sunday, March 4.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has insisted Russia had nothing to do with the nerve agent poisoning.
“Either this was a direct attack by the Russian state against our country or conceivably the country could have lost control of the military grade nerve agent,” May said. “This was not just an act of attempted murder in Salisbury – nor just an act against UK. It is an affront to the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. And it is an affront to the rules-based system on which we and our international partners depend.”
The Russian embassy in the UK published a series of tweets in response to May’s decision to dispel the Russian diplomats.
It sounds like Russia is continuing to deny that the nation’s officials had anything to do with the poisoning, while the UK goes off of “likely” scenarios rather than provided cold hard evidence of wrongdoing. But that’s just par for the course in global politics anymore.