Russia FM tells diplomats Moscow will not bow to ultimatums

Moscow (AFP) –


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday welcomed back diplomats who had been expelled from the West over a spy poisoning row, telling them Russia would never "cave in to ultimatums".

More than 150 Russian diplomats were ordered out of the US, EU members, NATO countries and other nations in the wake of the poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal in England, a move that was met in kind by Moscow.

"As you know, we of course made an appropriate response, we will never cave in to ultimatums, you cannot talk with the Russian Federation using that kind of language," Lavrov said at the briefing in Moscow.

He thanked the diplomats for their work abroad and repeated Moscow's official line that the attack was an "unprecedented provocation" against Russia.

Konstantin Rogozin, who served in Russia's embassy in Washington, said US authorities had behaved like "schoolchildren" over the affair.

"The ordinary, decent people (in the US) treated us very well, those in power are very distant from the people," he told AFP.

Relations between London and the West have plumbed new depths following the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

The conditions of the Skripals has continued to improve this week, with the ex-spy no longer in critical condition, the hospital treating him said. His daughter said her strength was "growing daily", in a statement issued Thursday.

Britain and its Western allies have blamed the attack on Moscow, accusing it of targeting the pair with a Soviet-made military-grade nerve agent, known as Novichok.