Russia To Expel US Diplomats, Shut Down Consulate In 'Reciprocal' Action

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to get the news, which was not unexpected.

At a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, Huntsman was also told that the USA consulate in St Petersburg would be closed - a like-for-like retaliation for the United States closure of Russia's consulate in the U.S. city of Seattle.

Moscow warned that it could take further measures in response if Washington "continued hostile actions" against the Russian embassy and consulates.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a Toronto news conference that Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to answer for Russia's role in the nerve gas attack.

Bulgaria, once Moscow's closest ally, is still heavily dependent on Russian gas supplies, on spare parts for its Soviet-era military equipment and on sizeable revenues from the tourism industry.

"The news from Moscow comes as no surprise", Maas said in a statement.

As Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted, this was especially painful for Russians because it came right after the tragedy in Kemerevo while the entire country was still in mourning.

Meanwhile, Russia has demanded that Britain hand over a sample of the substance for analysis, and demanded access to Yulia Skripal - a Russian citizen.

It says there is no alternative to the conclusion that the Russian state was to blame for the attempted "assassination of two people on British soil".

US officials have hinted at further moves, possibly against Russian assets overseas.

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After the poisoning, Britain reacted by announcing it would expel 23 Russian diplomats, suspend high-level diplomatic contact with Moscow and not send royals to the 2018 soccer World Cup hosted by Russia.

That number wasn't immediately clear.

A prominent Russian lawmaker said Moscow's expulsion of US diplomats could aid that meeting because both sides would be on an equal basis.

23 Russian diplomats expelled.

On Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned ambassadors from these countries to announce retaliatory measures.

Twenty-nine countries have expelled 145 Russian officials in solidarity with the United Kingdom - and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has also ordered 10 Russians out of its mission in Belgium.

The U.K. hospital treating the Skripals said Thursday that Yulia Skripal, 33, was "improving rapidly" and that she was no longer in a critical condition.

"Our temporary authorized secretary was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday, where he was informed that one Latvian diplomat will have to leave Russia before the evening of April 6", he said. Peskov said that "Russia remains open for developing good ties".

- CANADA: Four Russians expelled; 3 applications for additional diplomatic staff being denied.

Russian Federation on Thursday also revoked the permit for the US consulate in St Petersburg - meaning it must shut down - and issued a protest note to the US Ambassador to Moscow, Jon Huntsman, regarding what it called "outrageous and unwarranted" diplomatic action against Russian Federation. The officials were serving at the United States embassy in Moscow and another two were serving at the USA consulate in Yekaterinburg.

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