Russian Federation will expel British diplomats in tit-for-tat move: Lavrov

A T-80 battle tank during a fire demonstration at the Patriot military park outside Moscow. CREDIT Anton Novoderezhkin  Tass via Getty Images

In a rare joint statement, the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and the US on Thursday condemned the attack.

Mentioning Putin in the context of Sergei Skripal's poisoning "is nothing but shocking and unforgiveable behaviour from the point of view of diplomacy", Peskov said after Johnson said it was likely Putin's decision to use a nerve agent on British soil.

Russian Federation on Friday said that it will expel British diplomats and halt high-level meetings with the U.K. Russian Federation hasn't yes said who will be expelled, and when.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said to expect a Russian response "shortly" to Britain's expulsion of Russian diplomats and accused Britain of violating worldwide law and "common sense". Any boycott of the soccer World Cup, which Russian Federation hosts this summer, is not an immediate priority, she said.

London's Metropolitan Police said on Friday they believed the former associate of Berezovsky, Nikolai Glushkov, had been strangled to death and counter-terrorism officers would continue to lead the investigation.

Russian Federation has refused Britain's demands to explain how Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military, was used against the Skripals in the English city of Salisbury.

Glushkov, 68, was discovered dead on Monday in south-west London.

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Russian investigators said on Friday they had opened a criminal investigation into the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal and a murder investigation into Glushkov's death. The 67-year-old had been one of Russia's most powerful figures in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Relations between Britain and Russian Federation have been strained since the murder of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium-210 in London in 2006, a killing which a British inquiry said was probably approved by Mr. Putin. Peskov reiterated Russian denials of involvement in the attack on the Skripals.

The leader of Britain's main opposition party says the government shouldn't rush to blame Moscow for the nerve agent poisoning of a former spy.

A senior intelligence source told The Daily Telegraph they believe an item of clothing, cosmetics or a gift may have been laced with the Novichok agent used to poison the spy and his daughter nearly two weeks ago. The tensions threaten to overshadow Putin's expected re-election Sunday for another six-year presidential term.

KREMLIN spokesman Dmitry Peskov today said statements by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tying Russian President Vladimir Putin to the attack on an ex-double agent were "shocking and unforgiveable".

Speaking of Putin, Johnson today said: "We think it overwhelmingly likely it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the United Kingdom, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War".

The war of words between Moscow and London continued Friday, with Lavrov lashing back at British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson for saying Russian Federation "should go away and shut up". Russia's foreign minister said Britain's defense minister "lacks education".

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