MOSCOW, March 22. /TASS/. The British Council in Russia has announced that it cancels all scheduled events and programs and ends its activity in Russia amid tensions between Russia and the UK over the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
"The British Council in Russia has been instructed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to cease activity in Russia. Accordingly we have cancelled all scheduled events and programmes. We deeply regret this and are grateful for your understanding," it said in a statement on Thursday.
The British Council is the UK’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities.
The British Council’s head will not leave Russia and can execute the duties of a culture advisor at the UK’s embassy, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told TASS on Saturday.
On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in Salisbury. Police say they had been exposed to a nerve agent. Both are currently in the hospital in critical condition. UK Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of "unlawful use of force" against her country. As a result, 23 Russian diplomats were expelled from the country, while all planned high-level bilateral contacts have been suspended.
In response, Russia said that 23 British diplomats would be expelled as a tit-for-tat measure. Moreover, the UK consulate in St. Petersburg will be closed and the British Council operations in Russia will be terminated.