LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered to expell 23 Russian diplomats on Wednesday over the poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil, raising tensions between the two countries to a level not seen since the heights of the Cold War.
Her statement to Parliament came after Moscow rejected a British deadline for Russia to explain itself over this month’s attack on the former spy, Sergei V Skripal, and his daughter.
She vowed to crack down on Russian spies, corrupt elites and ill-gotten wealth in Britain.
Russia,however, denies any involvement in the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who have been in a critical condition in hospital since they were found unconscious on March 4 on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury.
Ms May had given Moscow until midnight on Tuesday to explain how the Soviet-made Novichok nerve agent came to be deployed on the streets of Salisbury, saying either the Russian state was responsible or had lost control of a stock of the substance.
She announced the potential freezing of Russian state assets that pose a security threat, new laws to counter hostile state activity and said British ministers and royals would not attend the football World Cup in Russia later this year.
The two countries have engaged in a worsening clash in recent days, with Britain widening an investigation into the incident and courting friends and allies to increase pressure on Russia, while Moscow has threatened to retaliate over any punitive action.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow would swiftly retaliate against the British measures which had been undertaken for ‘short-sighted political ends’.
“The British Government has made a choice in favour of confrontation with Russia,” it said.
32 dead, 1 missing in Papua attacks, Indonesian police say
JAYAPURA, INDONESIA- Security forces tried to recover the bodies of 31 construction workers and a soldier who were killed in one of the worst separatist attacks in Indonesia’s restive province of Papua, officials said Tuesday.
Papua police spokesman Suryadi Diaz said 24 workers were killed on Sunday when gunmen stormed a government bridge construction project in a remote mountainous village in Nduga district.
Citing reports from several witnesses, Diaz said, eight other workers fled to the nearby house of a local parliament member, but an armed group came a day later and killed seven of them. However the eighth managed to escape and remains missing.
“This is the worst attack launched by the armed criminal group recently amid intensified development by the government,” Diaz told The Associated Press.
Separately, Papua province military spokesman Lt. Col. Dax Sianturi said an armed group attacked a military post in Mbua village in the same district late Monday, killing a soldier and injuring another.Follow @gorkhapost