LONDON, March 30. /TASS/. The British Foreign Office has expressed regret over Moscow’s decision to make London reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia so that it matches the number of Russian diplomats in the UK.
"It’s regrettable but in light of Russia’s previous behavior, we anticipated a response," a Foreign Office spokeswoman.
"However, this doesn’t change the facts of the matter: the attempted assassination of two people on British soil, for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable. Russia is in flagrant breach of international law and the Chemical Weapons Convention and actions by countries around the world have demonstrated the depth of international concern," the spokeswoman added.
Earlier on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned British Ambassador to Moscow Laurie Bristow to express "strong protest against groundless provocations carried out by Great Britain, which for no reason triggered the expulsion of Russian diplomats from a number of countries."
The ministry added that Moscow was ready for substantial and responsible cooperation with London both bilaterally and within international legal mechanisms in order to establish those involved in the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
On March 4, Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and exchanged for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of a nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union. London expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow.
Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, 23 British diplomats were expelled, the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg was closed and the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia. At the same time, Moscow pointed out that further measures could be taken "should there be any more hostile actions against Russia.".