Russia expels 50 more British diplomats

Moscow has told Britain it must cut “just over 50” more of its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia in a worsening stand-off over the poisoning of a Russian former spy and his daughter in England, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said.

Russia has already retaliated in kind against Britain and ejected 23 British diplomats after frosty relations between London and Moscow deteriorated further over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

A spokeswoman for the British Foreign Office called the Russian move regrettable.

She did not say how many diplomatic staff in Russia would be affected. The British Embassy in Moscow says it does not make staff numbers public.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the demand meant Britain would have to cut “a little over 50” more of its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia on top of the 23 diplomats who have already gone home.

When asked if that meant London would now have to cut exactly 50 diplomatic and technical staff, she said: “A little over 50.”

Britain must now decide how it wants to make the cuts and may be forced to lay off some Russian support staff as well as sending home fully fledged diplomats to satisfy Moscow’s demand.