UK spy row: Expelled Russian diplomats leave London

The Russian embassy said nearly 80 people were leaving London after the UK government expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal.

world Updated: Mar 20, 2018 20:02 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
UK spy row,Sergei Skripal,nerve agent
Embassy staff, children and pets in carry cases enter Russia's embassy after arriving on a coach in London, Britain, on March 20, 2018. (Reuters)

Twenty-three Russian diplomats and their families were on their way home on Tuesday after being expelled by the UK government in retaliation against the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury on March 4.

The Russian embassy said nearly 80 people wereleaving London, as a small crowd gathered outside the mission and waved them goodbye. Moscow, which has denied any role in the incident, has also expelled 23 British diplomats in a tit-for-tat action.

Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to announce more sanctions against Russia after a meeting of the National Security Council.

Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, remain critical in hospital due to the suspected poisoning by a nerve agent allegedly manufactured inRussia.

The latest developments came as Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reiterated his position that Russia should not be blamed until concrete evidence is found in ongoing investigations. His stance in the row has infuriated his party MPs and the government.

Britain, he said in a BBC radio interview, must still deal with Russia despite "all fingers" pointing to it over the spy attack. He wanted "an absolutely definitive answer" about the source of the nerve agent used in the attempted murder before blaming Moscow.

Corbyn said people should "not shoot from the hip" and instead wait for experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to complete their work testing the poison. He repeated his call for Russia to be sent samples of the nerve agent to identify.

"All fingers point towards Russia's involvement in this, and obviously the manufacture of the material was undertaken by the Russian state originally. What I'm saying is the weapons were made from Russia, clearly,” he said.

"I think Russia has to be held responsible for it but there has to be an absolutely definitive answer to the question where did the nerve agent come from? I asked the Russians be given a sample so that they can say categorically one way or the other."

First Published: Mar 20, 2018 20:02 IST