Boris Johnson claims Russian Federation is stockpiling substance used in Skripal attack

Britain's Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox speaks at an event hosted by Thomson Reuters in Manhattan New York

Russian Federation had been expected to hit back at Britain, after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said on Friday that his country meant to expel British diplomats.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson upped the stakes Friday when he said it was "overwhelmingly likely" that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally gave the order to use the nerve agent against the Skripals. The pair remain critically ill in the hospital. In 2008, Russian Federation ordered the council to close all its offices except the Moscow headquarters as part of retaliation for the UK's expulsion of diplomats over the radioactive poisoning of former security-service officer Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.

Putin's re-election was widely expected, and elections officials had pushed hard for a strong turnout to claim an indisputable mandate.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports that British Ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow was summoned on Saturday morning to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, where he said the Russians informed him of their retaliation for the expulsion of Russian diplomats from London earlier in the week.

The British Council, whose activities in Russian Federation were suspended by the Kremlin on Saturday, is a registered charity that uses education and culture to spread British soft power internationally.

"It is our view that when political or diplomatic relations become hard, cultural relations and educational opportunities are vital to maintain on-going dialogue between people and institutions", it said.

Four years earlier, he said that the European Union had "unique selling points" for dealing with foreign aggressors which other worldwide bodies, including North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, do not possess.

Putin told reporters that if Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, had been targeted with a military-grade nerve agent, they would have died on the spot.

"Another six years of slavery", said a piece of paper made up to look like a ballot which was spotted on a Moscow street - in an apparent reference to Putin's next term.

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Russian Federation has insisted it is ready to cooperate in investigating the attack in Salisbury if Britain reciprocates by sharing the evidence it holds.

Russia's response had been anticipated, a UK Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the UK National Security Council would meet early next week to discuss next steps.

Opposition lawmakers are calling on the government to clamp down on the illicitly gained money of wealthy Russians in Britain.

"We have not raised any tensions in our relations, it was the decision by the British side without evidence", he told The Associated Press.

He added: "We support exactly what the Prime Minister said and we condemn Russian Federation for this, condemn them".

In his first public comments about the nerve agent attack, the Russian president said Moscow was ready to cooperate with the British government on the investigation. He said Britain must defend itself.

On Thursday the British government secured the backing of the leaders of the United States, France and Germany. With Russian help, Syrian forces have stepped up their offensive on rebel-held areas in recent days, leaving many dead.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom tweeted that she "forcefully reject (s) unacceptable and unfounded allegation" adding that "Russia should answer United Kingdom questions instead". Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has denounced the British accusations as "absolutely rude, unsubstantiated and baseless".

They were found unconscious on a bench near a shopping center. Russia's Investigative Committee opened a criminal case Friday into Yulia Skripal's attempted murder.

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