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Diplomat expulsions a mockery of international law, says Russia

Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said the nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal was ‘staged’.

Russia’s foreign minister has dismissed the recent expulsions of Russian diplomats as a mockery of international law.

Two dozen countries have expelled a total of more than 150 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with the UK, which blames Russia for last month’s poisoning of a former Russian spy in Salisbury.

Sergey Lavrov said the nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia was “staged” to justify the expulsions from many countries “whose arms were twisted”.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Wednesday rejected Russia’s calls for a joint investigation with Britain.

Russia said the number of countries that abstained from the vote suggested many have doubts about Britain’s allegations that Moscow was behind the attack.

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Buses wait to carry expelled diplomats from the US Embassy in Moscow (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

Earlier, three buses believed to be carrying expelled American diplomats left the US Embassy in Moscow.

Before the morning departure, journalists outside the embassy compound saw people leaving the residences, placing luggage on lorries.

Russia last week ordered 60 American diplomats to leave the country by Thursday in retaliation for the United States expelling the same number of Russians.

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