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Russian Federation expels 60 U.S. diplomats, closes American consulate

Russian Federation expels 60 U.S. diplomats, closes American consulate

Two dozen countries, including the US, many European Union nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, have ordered more than 150 Russian diplomats out this week in a show of solidarity with Britain. May's statements, and on Monday the president ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian officials who work in the United States, and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.

The State Department, however, indicated earlier that the United States could retaliate for Russia's "regrettable, unwarranted action", raising the possibility that the crisis could intensify.

Russia's foreign minister says Moscow is renewing its demand for access to Yulia Skripal, a Russian citizen who along with her ex-spy father was poisoned in Britain this month and reportedly is recovering.

Australia is set to expel the "undeclared intelligence officers" along with the 21 countries who have sent 130 diplomats back to Russian Federation in what the United Kingdom has declared the largest collective action in history.

Washington's decision was a response to the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain, which the USA and its European allies have blamed on Moscow.

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 global effort to isolate the country after an ex-spy and his daughter were poisoned in England in a nerve agent attack blamed on Moscow.

The Kremlin also summoned U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman so Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov could brief him "on the tit-for-tat steps against the U.S.", Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

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On March 12, Nikolai A. Glushkov, a former Russian business executive and critic of the government, died suddenly at his home in London, and the police are treating the case as a murder investigation. His daughter's condition is said to be improving - separate sources told BBC that Ms Skripal was conscious and talking.

Russia has denied involvement in the attack on the Skripals and says it suspects the British secret services are trying to frame Russia to stoke anti-Russian hysteria.

British authorities have accused Russian Federation of being behind the attack, which Moscow denies, and said a Soviet-designed nerve agent dubbed Novichok was used in the poisoning - the first use of chemical weapons in Europe since World War II. "Her condition is now stable".

Lavrov said the same approach will be applied to other nations that expelled Russian diplomats this week.

"She has responded well to treatment but continues to receive expert clinical care 24 hours a day", said Dr. Christine Blanshard, medical director at Salisbury District Hospital.

Announcing the expulsions of Western diplomats on Thursday, Lavrov said the Skripal poisoning was being exploited by an "Anglo-Saxon axis forcing everyone to follow an anti-Russian path".

Britain has blamed Russia for the poisoning, and has been backed up by dozens of Western countries which have ordered Russian diplomats to leave. He was sent to Britain in 2010 as part of a spy swap. Zaharova said at a foreign ministry press conference.