March 28, 2018 19:06 GMT
U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May in a phone call discussed the need to “dismantle” spying networks and prevent other illegal activities by Russia in their two countries, the White House says.
“Both leaders agreed on the importance of dismantling Russia’s spy networks in the United Kingdom and the United States to curtail Russian clandestine activities and prevent future chemical weapons attacks on either country’s soil,” a White House statement said on March 28.
The comments come as rhetoric between the West and Moscow heightened in the face of major expulsions of Russian diplomats from the United States, Britain, and other European countries in response to the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in England.
Britain has accused Moscow of being behind the March 4 nerve-agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the city of Salisbury that left both hospitalized in extremely critical condition.
Russia has denied it was behind the attack and has called on Britain to prove it did not itself poison the former double agent and his daughter.
Aleksandr Lukashevich, the Russian envoy at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), on March 28 said the expulsion of the 150 Russian diplomats by more than 20 nations created “a dangerous precedent of a collective punishment of a nation whose guilt hasn’t been proven.”
In televised remarks, Lukashevich dismissed the British claim as a “large-scale provocation.”
Still, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency that Moscow is in “no rush” to retaliate to the wave of expulsions.
Russia is “thoughtfully and thoroughly” considering its response, he said.