KIEV, March 28. /TASS/. Thirteen Russian diplomats expelled by Kiev in the wake of the ex-spy poisoning case in the United Kingdom will leave Ukraine on Wednesday, a Russian embassy spokesman told TASS.
The staff members of the embassy and consulates will comply with the Ukrainian side’s ultimatum within 48 hours.
"Each diplomat will go back home by a convenient means: someone will go by train, someone will go by plane through Minsk or the Baltic states," the embassy said.
Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko announced on Monday that Kiev had decided to expel 13 Russian diplomats in "solidarity" with the UK over the poisoning case in Salisbury. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Mariana Betsa said diplomats working in the Russian diplomatic missions in Kiev, Odessa, Lvov and Kharkov would be expelled.
The Russian Embassy noted that this Kiev’s unfriendly step would stonewall dialogue between Russia and Ukraine and would not contribute to normalizing ties.
On March 4, Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and exchanged for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury. Police said they had allegedly been exposed to a nerve agent. Both are in the hospital in critical condition.
London immediately accused Russia of being involved, but failed to produce any evidence. UK Prime Minister Theresa May blamed Russia for "unlawful use of force" against her country. She identified the alleged substance used in the attack as the Novichok nerve agent, developed in the former Soviet Union. The UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow.
Russia has flatly rejected these allegations pointing out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia had any programs to develop that substance. 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.
A number of EU member countries, including France, Germany and Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine, Moldova, and also the United States, Canada and Australia announced the expulsion of more than 100 Russian diplomats over the Skripal case. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that those unfriendly actions would not remain unanswered.