TODAY |

Russia expels 23 British diplomats as spy poisoning dispute escalates

Russia's government is expelling 23 British diplomats and threatened further measures in retaliation in a growing diplomatic dispute over a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it is also ordering the closure of the British Council in Russia and ending an agreement to reopen the British consulate in St. Petersburg.

It ordered the diplomats to leave within a week.

The statement said the government could take further measures if Britain takes any more "unfriendly" moves toward Russia.

British Prime Minister Theresa May this week expelled 23 Russian diplomats and severed high-level contacts over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

They remain in critical condition in hospital.

British Prime Minister Theresa May this week ordered 23 Russian diplomats expelled as part of measures to punish Russia over the March 4 poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury.

British Ambassador Laurie Bristow is expected at the Russian Foreign Ministry late Saturday morning.

Britain's foreign secretary accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of personally ordering the poisoning.

Putin's spokesman denounced the claim.