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Ten EU countries set to expel Russian officials

Ten EU countries set to expel Russian officials

Konstantin Kosachev, a leading Russian lawmaker, accused the European Union nations of blaming Russia to distract attention from their own troubles, and said they were putting solidarity above "not only stability in Europe, but facts and common sense".

"I think this is a wholly artificial exercise which came and will pass".

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday that Britain was trying to delude the public with anti-Russian "labels and cliches" to hide its lack of proof.

"These conclusion allow us to clearly establish that the substance which was used [to poison Skripal]... originated in Russian Federation".

In addition, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she will talk to France about anti-Russian measures, before she launches any action.

Several European governments moved closer on Friday to expelling Russian diplomats in a show of support for Britain, which ordered out 23 "undeclared intelligence agents" after a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who helped convince wavering countries such as Greece, Italy and Bulgaria, described the poisoning as "an attack on European sovereignty". It demands a reaction.

Following a summit in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the response to the Salisbury nerve agent attack, the European Council of EU leaders agreed "there was no plausible alternative explanation", the BBC reported.

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Welcoming the solidarity she secured from the summit, May told reporters on leaving: "The threat from Russian Federation is one that respects no borders and I think it is clear that Russian Federation is challenging the values we share as Europeans and it is right that we stand together in defence of those values".

The move comes after Britain, which blames Russia for the poisoning, expelled 23 Russian diplomats they said were spies and pressed European Union allies to follow suit despite Moscow's warning against confrontational steps. Moscow expelled an equal number of British diplomats in response.

"Additional steps are expected as early as Monday at the national level", summit chair Donald Tusk told reporters. This is the on-going development after the European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels released a statement, "recalling European Union envoy Markus Ederer".

Specialists in protective suits secure the forensic tent on March 8, 2018, that had been blown over by the wind and is covering the bench where Sergei Skripal was found with his daughter after an apparent nerve agent attack, in Salisbury, England. Later, Britain had officially confirmed the use of Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury.

Moscow hasn't been allowed to participate in the investigation, nor has it received any evidence to back up London's claims, though that hasn't stopped the British government from imagining that a Russian spy ring was behind this conspiracy and expelling 23 of the country's diplomats as a result, which saw the Russian side respond reciprocally.

But Greek PM Alexis Tsipras said that while he wanted to "express solidarity" with Britain, "we also need to be responsible on that issue".

Moscow insists it was not behind the attack and has accused Britain of fomenting anti-Russian hysteria.