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Expelled Russian Diplomats Leave Britain


Embassy staff react as colleagues and their children board buses outside Russia's Embassy in London, Britain, March 20, 2018.

Russian diplomats, ordered expelled by Britain over a nerve agent attack on British soil, left the country Tuesday.

They were transported from the Russian embassy in London to Stansted Airport for a flight home.

Britain ordered the 23 diplomats expelled last week, after blaming Moscow for the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury earlier this month.

British officials say the Skripals remain in critical condition, and a policeman who assisted them is still hospitalized in stable condition.

President Vladimir Putin has said it is “nonsense” to suggest Russia carried out the attack.

Moscow has retaliated by expelling 23 British diplomats. They are expected to leave the country in the coming days.

The forensic tent, covering the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found, is repositioned by officials in protective suits in the center of Salisbury, Britain, March 8, 2018.
The forensic tent, covering the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found, is repositioned by officials in protective suits in the center of Salisbury, Britain, March 8, 2018.

Experts to examine poison samples

In New York, the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, told reporters that, at Britain’s request, he has sent a team of experts to collect samples for analysis at the OPCW’s designated laboratories.

“The analysis may take another 2-3 weeks, and we will share the result with the British government,” Uzumcu said.

British officials say the chemical nerve agent used in the attack is known as Novichok, which was developed by the Soviet Union and inherited by Russia.

Asked if the tests could determine whether Novichok was used, Uzumcu said, “The OPCW-designated labs have so far demonstrated a very high level of capability. They are very skilled.”

As the dispute between Britain and Russia grows, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has offered another theory about the origin of the deadly chemical.

The ministry listed four European countries as the most likely source for Novichok. Britain topped the list, followed by Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sweden.

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson told his European Union counterparts at a meeting in Brussels Monday that Russia's denial of its involvement in the poisoning on British soil is "a classic Russian strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation."

VOA's United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report from New York.

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