U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May announced a series of measures to punish Russia on Wednesday, following a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury, England.
The measures include the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats, the single biggest expulsion in over 30 years. May said the U.K. would also not send an official government representative to the World Cup soccer tournament in Russia this summer.
The U.K. "doesn't want to break off all dialogue but this relationship cannot be the same," May said in Parliament, but announced that the U.K. is "suspending all high-level contact between the U.K. and Russia."
May's announcements included:
- U.K. to expel 23 Russian diplomats identified as "undeclared intelligence officers." They have a week to leave, May said.
- U.K. to "degrade Russian intelligence capability for years to come" and will take immediate action to "dismantle espionage network."
- U.K. to "harden defenses against hostile state activity in the U.K."
- Strengthened sanctions against the abuse of human rights.
- U.K. government to use powers to monitor and track those coming to the U.K. who could threaten the country.
- Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's invitation to the U.K. revoked.
The penalties mark the most serious deterioration in U.K.-Russia relations in recent years. They come after Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy-turned-double agent for the U.K., and his daughter Yulia, were subject to a nerve agent attack on March 4. They remain in a critical condition in hospital.