0743 GMT July 18, 2019
In times of Cold War there were some rules, but now Britain and the United States had dropped all propriety and were playing children’s games, he said.
Russia has denied responsibility for the March 4 attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury, Reuters reported.
On Friday, Russia expelled 59 diplomats from 23 countries and said it reserved the right to take action against four other nations in the worsening standoff with the West.
Russia said it was responding to what it called the baseless demands for scores of its own diplomats to leave a slew of mostly Western countries that have joined London and Washington in censuring Moscow over the poisoning of the ex-spy and his daughter.
A day earlier, Moscow ordered the expulsion of 60 US diplomats and the closing of the US consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second city, in retaliation for the biggest ejection of diplomats since the Cold War.
Russia has already retaliated in kind against Britain for ejecting 23 diplomats over the first known use of a military-grade nerve agent on European soil since World War Two. British Ambassador Laurie Bristow was summoned again on Friday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Bristow had been told London had just one month to cut its diplomatic contingent in Russia to the same size as the Russian mission in Britain.
Later, Moscow told Britain it must cut just over 50 more of its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia.
Russia rejects Britain’s accusation it stood behind the attack and has cast the allegations as part of an elaborate Western plot to sabotage East-West relations and isolate Moscow.
The hospital where she is being treated said on Thursday that Yulia Skripal was getting better after spending three weeks in a critical condition due to the nerve toxin attack. Her father remains in a critical but stable condition.
During the course of Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned senior embassy officials from Australia, Albania, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Croatia, Ukraine, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada and the Czech Republic.
“They (the diplomats) were handed protest notes and told that in response to the unwarranted demands of the relevant states on expelling Russian diplomats ... that the Russian side declares the corresponding number of staff working in those countries’ embassies in the Russian Federation persona non grata,” the ministry said in a statement.
Four other countries – Belgium, Hungary, Georgia and Montenegro – had only “at the last moment” announced that they too were expelling Russian diplomats over the Skripal affair, and Moscow reserved the right to take retaliatory action against them too, it said.