Shut down of US consulate in St Petersburg marks ‘further deterioration’ in ties – Sanders

The US responds to Russia’s decision to kick out 60 foreign diplomats and close down Washington’s consulate in St Petersburg.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has said Russia’s expulsion of US diplomats marks a “further deterioration” in relations between the two countries.

Ms Sanders suggested Washington may hit back, by saying: “Russia’s response was not unanticipated, and the United States will deal with it.”

Russia’s move is a retaliation to the expulsion of more than 150 Russian diplomats across the globe, following the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said US ambassador Jon Huntsman had been summoned and was informed of the “retaliatory measures”.

Mr Lavrov promised “symmetrical measures” for other countries which are expelling Russian diplomats in a mass show of support for Britain.

The US has said there is “no justification” for Russia’s move to expel diplomats and says the country should not act “like a victim”.

Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal
Image:Sergei and Yulia Skripal were critically injured in the attack

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Sergei Skirpal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unresponsive and taken to Salisbury District Hospital after being attacked with nerve agent novichok on 4 March.

Britain has blamed Moscow for the attempted murders – an allegation Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed as “nonsense”.

On Thursday, it was announced that Ms Skripal was no longer in a critical condition and is “improving rapidly”, but her father remains in a critical but stable condition.

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Hitting out at the “so-called Skripal case”, Mr Lavrov said Russia’s measures were a reaction to “absolutely unacceptable actions that are taken against us under very harsh pressure from the United States and Britain”.

He accused London of “forcing everyone to follow an anti-Russian course” and said Moscow had repeated its request for access to Ms Skripal “as she is a Russian citizen”.

The foreign minister said in Moscow “we want to establish the truth” over the poisoning and accused Britain of “making mockery of international law”.

Mr Lavrov added that Russia had asked for a meeting with the executive council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Tuesday to ask questions to “establish the truth”.

News.sky.com

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