Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cold War redux.

The British government was last night bracing itself for an inevitable diplomatic backlash after expelling four Russian intelligence officers in protest at the Kremlin's refusal to hand over the prime suspect in the polonium-210 poisoning affair.

In an attempt to underline the government's anger and alarm over the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the Foreign Office announced it was ceasing cooperation with Moscow on a range of issues, starting with the imposition of restrictions on visas issued to Russian officials seeking to visit the UK.

All four individuals being expelled are officers with one of the successor organisations to the KGB, a clear signal that British authorities strongly suspect that Russian intelligence agencies had a hand in the murder. David Miliband, the foreign secretary, told the Commons yesterday: "This response is proportional and it is clear at whom it is aimed."

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