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Russia gives UK a month to cut number of diplomats in Moscow

The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned envoys from Western nations which expelled Russian diplomats in solidarity with London today to set out its retaliatory measures.

Yesterday, the Kremlin ordered the expulsion of 60 US diplomats and shut the US consulate in St Petersburg, and today, German, Dutch, Italian, Irish, Spanish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Canadian, Polish, Czech and Croatian ambassadors to Russia confirmed diplomats had been expelled in retaliation.

The ministry also said in a statement that it had given Britain one month to cut the number of diplomats stationed in Moscow to the same as the number of Russian envoys in the UK.

Despite the move, a Kremlin spokesperson today said Russian President Vladimir Putin still favours mending ties with other countries.

The spokesperson also said he did not agree with the US State Department's view that the expulsions signals Moscow's lack of interest in diplomacy.

The US announced on Monday it would expel 60 Russian diplomats and close the Russian consulate in Seattle.

Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury at the beginning of the month.

Yulia Skripal reportedly regained consciousness last night for the first time since she was poisoned by the nerve agent.

The chief of the United Nations yesterday said US-Russia relations were deteriorating into a Cold War-style situation.

Antonio Guterres called for new safeguards, saying: “During the Cold War there were mechanisms of communication and control to avoid the escalation of incidents, to make sure that things would not get out of control when tensions would rise. Those mechanisms have been dismantled.

“I do believe its time for precautions of this sort – guaranteeing effective communication, guaranteeing capacity to prevent escalation – I do believe that mechanisms of this sort are necessary again."

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