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20 Mar, 2018 11:57

Expelled Russian diplomats leave embassy in London (VIDEO)

Expelled Russian diplomats have left the country’s embassy in London. It is part of sanctions imposed by UK PM Theresa May last week following claims of Moscow’s involvement in the poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal.

A video provided by the Ruptly news agency shows several vehicles leaving the territory of the diplomatic mission on Tuesday. Last week, London ordered 23 Russian diplomats to leave the UK by March 20. According to the country’s envoy, Alexander Yakovenko, the family members of the expelled staffers are also being forced to leave Britain.

A Russian Il-96 plane has been dispatched to the UK to pick up the expelled diplomatic staff. The flight took to the skies from London Stansted Airport at about 16:00 GMT, carrying the 23 diplomats and their families – some 80 people in total.

In retaliation, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Saturday saying that 23 employees of the British embassy in Moscow have been declared personae non grata.

Last week, British Prime Minister Theresa May demanded that Moscow reveal the details of the alleged Skripal plot or face consequences. London claims that the former double spy was poisoned with a “Russian-made” nerve agent A-234 (dubbed ‘Novichok’).

Moscow brushed off the ultimatum, saying it was ready to offer help in the case, but would not tolerate “groundless” accusations and ultimatums. London subsequently announced that it would expel 23 Russian diplomats, as well as threatening to partially seize official contacts and freeze state assets in the UK.

On Monday, the European Council issued a statement backing the UK in its view that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation was responsible for the March 4 incident with Skripal and his daughter. The Council said it was “shocked” by the poisoning and urged Moscow to urgently address the issue.

Moscow described the European Union’s judgment on the Sergei Skripal incident as “hasty, speculative, and evidence-free,” noting that it has no stocks of Novichok.

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