Russia expels 23 British diplomats in retaliation over Salisbury poisoning sanctions
Russia has expelled 23 British diplomats as part of a package of measures in retaliation against UK sanctions in the wake of the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
Russia has also withdrawn permission for Britain to open a general consulate in St Petersburg and says it will be closing the British Council in Russia.
Additionally, the Russian foreign ministry has said it reserves the right to take other measures against Britain in the event of further hostile steps from London.
Britain's ambassador to Moscow, Laurie Bristow, was called into a meeting with Kremlin officials this morning, where he was informed of Russia's plans.
Speaking afterwards he said: "Russia has today informed me of steps Russia wants to take in response. As our Prime Minister made clear in the British Parliament, we have no dispute with the Russian people.
"The work of my embassy is to promote those links between Russia and the United Kingdom, but we will also do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies and our values against an attack of this sort, which is not just an attack on the United Kingdom, but on the international rules-based system on which all countries - including Russia - depend for their safety and security."
The war of words between the UK and Russia has escalated throughout the week.
Boris Johnson accused the Russian leader Vladimir Putin of personally ordering the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy living in the UK.
The Foreign Secretary said it was “overwhelmingly likely” the Russian leader personally ordered the attack on Sergei Skripal.
Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in hospital in a serious condition.
A policeman who tended to the father and daughter while they were slumped on a park bench has also received hospital care.
Mr Putin’s spokesman described the Foreign Secretary’s comments as “unpardonable”.