Russia's London embassy 'seriously affected' by expulsions


London (AFP)

The Russian embassy in London said Thursday its consular services have been "seriously affected" by the expulsion of diplomats as part of an escalating crisis between the two countries.

"As a result of the irresponsible actions of the UK government, which led to an expulsion of 23 diplomats of the Russian embassy, including a number of consular section staff, the consular service for applicants has been seriously affected," the embassy wrote on Facebook.

Britain's decision to throw out the Russian diplomats followed a nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury, which the UK government pinned on Moscow.

The move has led to reciprocal measures being taken against British diplomats in Russia against the backdrop of a growing war of words between the countries' top politicians.

Russia's London embassy announced visitor numbers to the diplomatic mission would be temporarily limited, while the visa application process will take longer.

Fast-track services will take up to three working days, while regular processing will increase to 20 days.

"The embassy is doing its best to re-establish the ordinary workflow for the best functioning of the consular section," the embassy said, again blaming Britain for the delays.

Britain has won the backing of the United States, France and Germany in naming Russia responsible for the March 4 attack, while Moscow has denied involvement and suggested London itself could have been behind the poisoning.

Skripal and his daughter meanwhile remain in a critical but stable condition in Salisbury, while a British police officer has recovered consciousness and is no longer in serious condition.