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Moscow is expelling a reciprocal number of diplomats in response of Western measures over the Skripal case.
The poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in England has led to a major diplomatic crisis between Russia and Western countries aligning with Theresa May's position, with the mutual expulsion of scores of diplomats from several countries.
In response to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from many Western countries, the Russian government summoned senior Western diplomats Friday to inform them about the number of embassy officials they are expelling.
Embassy officials from France, Germany, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Croatia, Belgium, Ukraine, Sweden, Australia, Canada and the Czech Republic were all seen arriving in their official cars at the Foreign Ministry building in Moscow.
“The envoys will be handed protest notes and told about the Russian side’s retaliatory measures,” the Foreign Ministry said.
The number of total expelled diplomats is not definitive, but it's expected to match the number of Russian diplomats expelled from Western countries, which is about 130.
Reuters reported that a plane for the expelled diplomats is being prepared.
British Ambassador Laurie Bristow was reportedly informed they would have a month to cut their diplomatic personnel to the same size of the reduced Russian diplomatic mission in London.
Russia has been reciprocally reacting to the measures of Western countries that decided to act in solidarity with Great Britain's government and expel Russian diplomats. The United States even closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.
In response, Russia declared 60 U.S. diplomats persona non grata and ordered them to leave by April 5, the same amount of Russian diplomats expelled from the United States. They also informed the U.S. general consulate in St. Petersburg, their largest diplomatic mission in Russia, they had two days to suspend operations.
“The measures would be reciprocal... They include expulsion of the equivalent number of diplomats, and they include our decision to withdraw our agreement to allow the United States’ general consulate to operate in St Petersburg,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said Moscow shouldn't “be acting like a victim” and that it was clear they're “not interested in having good relations with other countries,” despite the fact that the U.S. is the one expelling diplomats and closing diplomatic missions in the first place.
"If Russia wants to improve relations, it needs to first acknowledge its responsibility for the attack, and cease its recklessly aggressive behavior," Nauert said.
Great Britain claims that Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer who worked as a double agent for the British until the early 2000s, and his daughter were poisoned with a Soviet-developed Novichok nerve agent, and Theresa May blames Russia to be behind the attack.
The Russian government has denied any involvement in the attack and claims it's all part of a Western plot to isolate them.
Skripal is currently in critical but stable condition and remains hospitalized under intensive care. His daughter Yulia is reported to be “conscious and talking.”