Expelled Russian diplomats move out of United Kingdom embassy over spy poisoning claims

The missile was previously tested in December last year with footage of the launch system shown during Putin's state of the nation address

The missile was previously tested in December last year with footage of the launch system shown during Putin's state of the nation address

The Foreign Ministry said it would also order an end to all activities of the British Council, Britain's global organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities, and warned London that "if any further unfriendly actions are taken against Russia, the Russian side reserves the right to take other retaliatory measures".

The Russians and their families were waved off by staff outside the London embassy - some were seen wiping away tears.

The UK embassy in Israel said on Tuesday it was expecting harsher condemnation from Israel on the nerve agent attack in London on March 4 which targeted former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Investigators from the global Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in Britain on Monday to collect samples of the nerve agent used.

The father and daughter remain in a critical condition in hospital following their exposure to the lethal nerve agent, Novichok.

The retaliation comes a day before Russians head to the polls for an election in which President Vladimir Putin is expected to win a second term.

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"Its quite obvious that if it were a military-grade nerve agent, people would have died on the spot", he said.

Britain's government said the move was expected, and that it doesn't change the British conviction that Russian Federation was behind the poisoning of ex-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury.

May and other European Union leaders are due to discuss the poisoning at a summit on Thursday.

Investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will visit the United Kingdom to take samples of Novichok, the substance used to attack former double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33.

Responding to Russia's decision to expel the diplomats, Britain said it had "anticipated" the move.

Britain's National Security Council is meeting today to consider further measures against Moscow.

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It ordered the diplomats to leave within a week. The British government said that was "nonsense".

Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova emphasized that Britain has failed to provide any proof of Russian involvement, limiting itself to "boorish accusations". "We destroyed all our chemical weapons under the supervision of global organisations, and we did it first, unlike some of our partners who promised to do it, but unfortunately did not keep their promises", Putin said.

Leonid Rink says the agent dubbed Novichok in the West had a different name when it was designed as a chemical weapon in the Soviet Union. The focus is on the movement of the Skripals in the hours before they were found unconscious on a bench in the cathedral city 90 miles (145 kms) southwest of London.

It appears as though the investigation is now focusing on the vehicle that carried Sergei Skripal's daughter Yulia from the airport, however police say they are probing all "movements" of the Skripals.

The identification of Novichok as the weapon has become the central pillar of Britain's case for Russia's culpability.

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