Russian politician warns Britain not to escalate diplomatic crisis

Police officers continue to guard Zizzi's restaurant where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are known to have visited shortly before they were found in the centre of Salisbury Britain

Russian Federation will expel British diplomats in a worsening global standoff over a nerve-agent attack on a former spy and his daughter, but still isn't saying when or how many.

Earlier on Friday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would "of course" respond in kind to the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats which was announced by British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Russia is still offering dialogue to London and Washington, RIA quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.

At the same time, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has slammed the allegations made by UK Prime Minister Theresa May against Russia over the Skripal poisoning case as "insane".

Israel has condemned the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy who, along with his daughter Yulia, was apparently poisoned with a form of nerve gas last week in Britain.

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The statement comes as Britain seeks worldwide support to hold Russia accountable for the March 4 attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33. The leaders stressed that they share Britain's opinion on Russia's involvement in this incident, and they called Moscow for providing the information about Novichok agent (a series of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union and Russiabetween 1971-1993, -ed.) to the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons).

May has directly accused President Vladimir Putin, poised to win a fourth term in an election on Sunday, of being behind the attack.

The statement signals a more co-ordinated response from Britain's closest allies, but it lacked any details about specific measures the West would take if Russian Federation failed to comply.

Johnson said Britain would send a sample of the nerve agent to the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons for them to independently assess it.

Britain's foreign minister increased pressure on Russian Federation over the poisoning case of one of Moscow's ex-spies by claiming it was "overwhelmingly likely" President Vladimir Putin directly ordered the attack.

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The Russian Embassy in London said the expulsion of diplomats was "totally unacceptable, unjustified and shortsighted".

Russian Federation has said is open to cooperation with Britain, but has refused Britain's demands to explain how Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military, was used against the Skripals.

Both remain critically ill in hospital. She says it's highly likely it came from Russian Federation, and gives Moscow until midnight March 13 to provide an explanation or face "extensive" retaliatory measures.

"We will freeze Russian state assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of United Kingdom nationals or residents", May said.

"The credibility of this Council will not survive if we fail to hold Russian Federation accountable", she said.

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In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the defense alliance stood ready to provide support to Britain.

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