UK Blasts Russia's 'Sarcasm,' Expels 23 Diplomats

Theresa May announces measures against Moscow after it fails to address ex-spy's poisoning
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2018 6:03 AM CDT
Updated Mar 14, 2018 8:35 AM CDT
Russia Thumbs Its Nose at UK's Spy-Related Deadline
Investigators in protective suits work at the scene in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, England, Tuesday, March 13, 2018.   (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)

The United Kingdom is pointing 23 Russian diplomats identified as "undeclared intelligence officers" to the exit, reports the BBC, giving them a week to pack up and get out after Moscow failed to give an explanation for how the Russian-produced nerve agent Novichok came to be used to poison former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. British Prime Minister Theresa May also uninvited Russia's foreign minister, and announced that no minister or member of the royal family will attend the Russia-hosted Fifa World Cup this year. "No one can come to parliament and say: 'I give Russia 24 hours,'" a Russian Foreign Ministry rep declared on Tuesday in reference to the deadline, reports the AP. May termed the Russian response one of "sarcasm, contempt, and defiance." Meanwhile, the Guardian takes a look at "why Putin may have engineered (a) gruesome calling card."

Luke Harding and Andrew Roth write that whoever poisoned the Skripals could have opted for a "subtler weapon," but instead chose something that would inevitably draw notice and trace back to Russia. Their sources speculate that the target wasn't really Skripal, but the UK itself, and the theories why range from ginning up Russian nationalism—by decrying the Western conspiracy against it—ahead of Sunday's presidential election or getting wealthy Russians in London, a "weak point of the regime," pushed out. The New York Times looks at a different angle: the fact that this may be the first confirmed use of Novichok. Its recounts a former US defense official's recollection of destroying a Soviet research facility believed to be tied to Novichok nearly two decades ago; it was filled with devices to restrain dogs as they were exposed to the poison. He believed 1,000 dogs had been killed during the tests. (Read more Russia stories.)

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