Russian Federation announced Saturday it is expelling 23 British diplomats and threatened further retaliatory measures in a growing diplomatic dispute over a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain. Putin's spokesman denounced the claim.
The relationship between London and Moscow has crashed to a post-Cold War low over the attack involving a military-grade nerve agent on English soil.
On Wednesday, May went on to announce a package of anti-Russian measures, including the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the country, and the suspension of bilateral contacts between London and Moscow.
Russian Federation was on Sunday set to elect Vladimir Putin to a historic fourth Kremlin term, as the country faces increasing isolation over a spy poisoning in Britain and a fresh round of U.S. sanctions.
Meanwhile, Russia's Investigative Committee said it had launched its own criminal proceedings in connection with the "attempted murder of a Russian citizen, Yulia Skripal" in Salisbury. Her father has British citizenship. Both remain in critical condition.
The murder is not believed to be linked to the attack on the Skripals.
But to the West, they are raising similar concerns.
Russia's response was more robust than expected.
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London and its allies have blamed Moscow for the attack and on Friday, Britain directly implicated Putin himself, unleashing the Kremlin's fury.
"We have repeatedly stated on various levels that Russian Federation has nothing to do with that story", Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told the Tass news agency Friday. Russian Federation has denied any involvement.
"We have never encountered this level of discussion on the global stage", Peskov told reporters.
Russian Federation has declared members of the British diplomatic mission persona non grata.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told The Associated Press that the Salisbury attack was a direct challenge to Europe.
It said this was a response to Britain's "provocative actions" and "baseless accusations over the Salisbury incident".
Experts say Russian Federation is the only-known maker of Novichok.
It is Russian Federation that is in flagrant breach of worldwide law and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
He said even the name Novichok was a "Western invention" and that Russian Federation never gave it a name.
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While Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement, May claims the chemical weapon was produced in the former Soviet Union.
Sunday also marks exactly four years since Putin signed a treaty declaring Crimea part of Russian Federation following its annexation from Ukraine, an action that led to the war in the east of the former Soviet state.
March 3, 2018 Yulia Skripal arrives at Heathrow Airport from Russian Federation to visit her father in England.
On Thursday, Ryabkov claimed that Russian Federation had never developed anything like the alleged nerve agent, identified by the British as Novichok.
"People are put in a situation where they have no-one to choose from", he said. Russia's defence ministry said he was an "intellectual impotent" and Mr Lavrov said he probably lacked education.
The Russian government has also been vague about its response to Washington's expansion of sanctions announced Thursday against Russian individuals believed to have played a role in alleged cyberattacks and attempts to influence the 2016 US presidential election.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose response to the attack has led to criticism from some on his backbenches, said "the evidence points towards Russia" being responsible - but the possibility of gangsters being behind the attack rather than the Kremlin could not be excluded.
Lawless reported from London.
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The representatives of Russia's Foreign Ministry added that the British Council is not anymore functioning in Russian Federation . British police said Friday that he died from compression to the neck and opened a murder investigation.