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Sergei Skripal Russia will 'of course' expel British diplomats after UK move: Lavrov

"Of course we will," Lavrov told journalists when asked whether Moscow will respond in kind to the expulsion of Russian diplomats announced by British Prime Minister Theresa May.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in the Kazakh capital Astana following talks on Syria with the foreign ministers of Iran and Turkey play

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in the Kazakh capital Astana following talks on Syria with the foreign ministers of Iran and Turkey

(AFP/File)

Moscow will expel British diplomats in response to London's move to kick out 23 Russian officials over the poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

"Of course we will," Lavrov told journalists when asked whether Moscow will respond in kind to the expulsion of Russian diplomats announced by British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Lavrov was speaking in the Kazakh capital Astana following talks on Syria with the foreign ministers of Iran and Turkey.

The Russian foreign minister on Thursday said Moscow would respond by expelling British diplomats "soon".

He said his country had no motive to target Skripal, but suggested others could use the poisoning to "complicate" the World Cup.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier said Vladimir Putin would ultimately choose the option that "most suits Moscow's interests".

In a rare joint statement, the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and the US on Thursday condemned the attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia as an "assault on UK sovereignty".

The escalating international scandal is unfolding as Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition after exposure to the Soviet-designed chemical Novichok on March 4 in the English city of Salisbury.

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