Russian spy: UK won't send any government or Royal representatives to the Russia World Cup, says Theresa May

Invitation for Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to visit UK also revoked

Lydia Smith
Wednesday 14 March 2018 13:59
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UK won't send any government or Royal representatives to Russia World Cup, says Theresa May

Theresa May has confirmed no ministers or members of the royal family will attend the World Cup in Russia.

The move comes after the Prime Minister said it was highly likely Russia is responsible for the attempted murder of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

Ms May addressed MPs on Wednesday, following her deadline for Russia to provide a “credible” explanation for the attack.

“There will be no attendance by ministers - or indeed members of the Royal Family - at this summer's World Cup in Russia,” she told Parliament.

“The Russian state was culpable of the attempted murder.

“Many of us looked at a post-Soviet Russia with hope. We wanted a better relationship and it is tragic that President Putin has chosen to act in this way.”

Ms May said it was “not in our national interest to break off all dialogue between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation, but in the aftermath of this appalling act against our country this relationship cannot be the same”.

She also announced the suspension of “all planned high-level bilateral contacts between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation”.

This includes the revocation of an invitation for foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to visit the UK, the Prime Minister said.

Ms May said Britain will expel a number of Russian diplomats in response to the incident.

“Under the Vienna Convention, the United Kingdom will now expel 23 Russian diplomats who have been identified as undeclared intelligence officers,” she told Parliament.

“They have just one week to leave.”

Earlier this week, Ms May said it was clear the former KGB agent and his daughter were poisoned by a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by the Russian state.

Russia has said it is “not to blame” for the attack on Mr Skripal, who was found slumped on a bench next to Ms Skripal outside a shopping centre in Salisbury on 4 March.

The pair remain in a critical condition in hospital.

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