LONDON, March 17. /TASS/. The British National Security Council will consider further steps that may follow Russia’s move to expel 23 British diplomats from Moscow early next week, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said in a statement obtained by TASS.
"In light of Russia's previous behavior, we anticipated a response of this kind and the National Security Council will meet early next week to consider next steps," the statement said.
The response to the British Prime Minister’s set of measures against Moscow announced earlier on Saturday by the Russian Foreign Ministry, will not change London’s position, which still considers Moscow culpable for poisoning of ex-Colonel of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate convicted for spying for the United Kingdom, Sergey Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement.
"Russia’s response 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. It is Russia that is in flagrant breach of international law and the Chemical Weapons Convention," the statement said.
"We have no disagreement with the people of Russia and we continue to believe it is not in our national interest to break off all dialogue between our countries but the onus remains on the Russian state to account for their actions and to comply with their international obligations," the British Foreign Office noted.
The measures announced by the British PM on March 14 are aimed at liquidating Russia’s "espionage network operating in the UK," the British Foreign Office said.
"This (Moscow’s response) follows the action we have taken, alongside other measures, to dismantle the Russian espionage network operating in the UK as a consequence of the attempted assassination of two people here in Britain using a nerve agent," the statement said.
On Saturday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that 23 British diplomats have been declared personae non gratae and will be expelled within a week. Moreover, the ministry stated that Moscow will withdraw permission to open the British Consulate General in St. Petersburg and close the British Council in the Russian Federation. If more unfriendly actions against Russia follow, the Russian side reserves the right of taking other retaliation measures, the ministry added.
On March 4, ex-Colonel of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate convicted for spying for the United Kingdom, Sergey Skripal, and his daughter Yulia were exposed to a nerve agent. They were found unconscious on a bench near a shopping center in Salisbury.
On March 12, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack on Skripal and his daughter. She identified the substance used in the attack as a Novichok nerve agent, developed in the Soviet Union. PM accused Russia of "an unlawful use of force" against her country. Later she announced that London would expel 23 Russian diplomats and take other measures against Moscow.