U.K. to expel 23 Russian diplomats over spy poisoning

LONDON — Britain will expel 23 Russian diplomats after the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy — the single biggest such expulsion since the Cold War.

Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons on Wednesday that Russia has expressed “disdain” for Britain’s wish for an explanation into the attempted murder of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

She said that Russia’s actions “represent an unlawful use of force.”

May said the Russian diplomats have a week to leave Britain.

She also announced a range of economic and diplomatic measures, including a decision to cancel all high-level bilateral contacts with Russia and to ask the royal family not attend the soccer World Cup in Russia.

Russia has denied responsibility in the March 4 attack on the Skripals, who remain in critical condition in Salisbury, England.

Russia’s ambassador to the U.K. said Britain’s behavior in connection with the investigation is a “provocation.”

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko told Sky News after leaving London’s Foreign Office on Wednesday that Britain’s actions are “absolutely unacceptable and we consider this a provocation.”

He did not elaborate.

“We believe that the measures which are taken by the British government is nothing to do with the situation which we have in Salisbury,” Yakovenko said.