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Lavrov slams expulsion of Russian diplomats as 'provocation'

April 09, 17:44 updated at: April 09, 18:33 UTC+3

Moscow will make every effort to see that the Russian diplomats expelled from Western countries over the Salisbury poisoning return to work as soon as possible

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© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

MOSCOW, April 9. /TASS/. The expulsion of Russian diplomats is an unprecedented provocation that has nothing to do with tasks of international cooperation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a meeting with the Russian diplomats expelled by a number of countries over Sergei Skripal’s poisoning case.

"The expulsion of Russian diplomats is an unprecedented provocation that has no relation to the tasks of the extension of international cooperation and implementation of all agreements that stem from the UN Charter and agreements enshrined in multiple international documents, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations," he said.

Russia will make every effort to see that the Russian diplomats expelled from Western countries over the Salisbury poisoning return to work as soon as possible, he went on. 

"We will do our best in spite of an objective situation in connection with an unforeseen completion of so many missions, so that your forced short holidays end as soon as possible, so that you all resume activity on foreign policy fronts of our vast Fatherland," Lavrov said.

Moscow will never bend under the West’s ultimatums as this is not the language to be used in relations with Russia, he added. 

"Naturally, we will give a tit-for-tat response. We will never bend under any ultimatums. This is not the language to be used in relations with Russia," he stressed.

"I’d prefer not to speak in detail about the reasons why your missions in foreign countries have been cut short ahead of time, you know that only too well. These reasons have nothing to do with the work you did," Lavrov noted.

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been earlier sentenced in Russia for spying for the UK, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, UK. Police said they had been exposed to a nerve agent.

Later, London claimed that the toxin of Novichok-class had been allegedly developed in Russia. With that, the UK rushed to accuse Russia of being involved, while failing to produce any evidence. Moscow refuted the accusations that it had participated in the incident and points out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia have ever done research into that toxic chemical.

Without providing any proof, London expelled 23 Russian diplomats and suspended all planned high-level bilateral contacts. In response, Moscow expelled the equal number of UK diplomats. In a show of solidarity with the UK, a number of Western countries also expelled Russian diplomats. Washington expelled as many as 60 Russian diplomatic staffers. The move was followed by tit-for-tat response from Russian.

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