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Russian Federation closes United States consulate in St. Petersburg due to 'Western expulsions'

Russian Federation closes United States consulate in St. Petersburg due to 'Western expulsions'

Russia plans to carry out proportionate expulsions of diplomats from every country that has ordered Russian diplomats to get out, Lavrov said. He said those countries had been put under "the greatest pressure of the United States and the Great Britain".

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Russia's expulsion of USA diplomats marks a "further deterioration" in relations between the two countries, but like Nauert defended similar moves by Washington and its allies.

The US had ordered a similar number of diplomats from Russian Federation to leave and the shuttering of one of its consulates as part of an worldwide effort to isolate the country after an ex-spy and his daughter were poisoned in England in a nerve agent attack blamed on Moscow. As he explained, Russia's counter-measures will affect all countries that have made a decision to expel diplomats.

The US ambassador was also ordered to shut the consulate in St Petersburg, in Russia's retaliation for the biggest expulsion of diplomats since the Cold War.

Skripal, a Russian ex-spy who became a double agent at Secret Service of ML6 - British intelligence - was arrested and sentenced in Russia in middle of last decade.

Thursday's announcement follows the expulsion of more than 150 Russian diplomats by European Union nations, the United States, NATO and other countries in response to the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

At a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, Huntsman was also told that the U.S. consulate in St Petersburg would be closed - a like-for-like retaliation for the USA closure of Russia's consulate in the United States city of Seattle. "There are now 26 countries that have expelled about 150 Russian diplomats".

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The envoy's suggestions echoed UK Prime Minister Theresa May's plans to consider the proposal to prohibit the sale of Russian bonds through the City of London's clearing houses, which help finance Russia's sovereign debt.

Lavrov added that just as he was making the statement, U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman was invited to the Foreign Ministry, where he was handed notice that Russia is responding quid pro quo to the U.S. decision to order 60 Russian diplomats out. "Her condition is now stable".

Lavrov emphasized that the expulsions followed a "brutal pressure" from the US and Britain who forced their allies to "follow the anti-Russian course".

The ministry's spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said Thursday that the Western research into the class of nerve agent called Novichok was reflected in numerous open source documents of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members.

Salisbury NHS Trust, which oversees the hospital where the pair are being treated, says 33-year-old Yulia is "improving rapidly and is no longer in a critical condition". Russian diplomats have been operating out of the special interests section of the Swiss embassy in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, since 2009.

Russia's foreign ministry said it had declared persona non grata 58 diplomats in Moscow and two general consulate officials in Yekaterinburg. The ministry condemned the poisoning, calling it a "serious challenge to common security".