>> The UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent on British soil. That's according to British Prime Minister Theresa May, who said the diplomats have been identified as undeclared intelligence officers.>> They have just one week to leave.
This will be the single biggest expulsion for over 30 years. Through these expulsions we will fundamentally degrade Russian intelligence capability in the UK for years to come.>> High-level bilateral communications with Moscow will also be suspended she said. One impact of that will be no British ministers or members of the royal family at the World Cup in Russia later this year.
But as Reuter's Alastair Sharp in London explains, there's little else by way of specifics to concern Moscow.>> If it is the case, as we've been hearing from people we've spoken to, that the Kremlin won't see this as a very hard hand that Britain's played. Then while there is a lot of rhetoric on both sides and a lot of tit-for-tat.
It seems as though these measures aren't anything which should go into a worry Russia too much and that might actually help prevent an escalation.>> The measures are a response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. They were found unconscious on a bench in the quiet English city of Salisbury on March the 4th and remain in a critical condition.
The British government has identified the substance used as Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Russian military in the 1970s and 80s. Moscow was given until the end of Tuesday to explain how Novichok came to be used in the attack. Russia said it would not respond to that ultimatum until the UK sent it samples of the nerve agent.
>> They have treated the use of a military grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt, and defiance.>> Russia has dismissed all suggestions that it's responsible and called British accusations a political performance. Moscow also said that London should expect a retaliation for its actions.