Under the Vienna Convention, the United Kingdom will now expel 23 Russian diplomats who have been identified as undeclared intelligence officers. They have just one week to leave.
I think the actual measures were probably the minimum that could be expected at this stage. There had to be expulsions of diplomats. She made the point it was the largest expulsion for some 30 years. So in that sense, it's pretty firm, but she didn't as yet go further in looking at some other measures that people have been calling for, such as going after the wealth of Russian oligarchs and friends of Vladimir Putin who are based in London, or indeed, banning Russia Today, the television channel.
And I think there are probably three reasons for that. They have to have something up their sleeve in case they get into a tit-for-tat process with the Russians. And they know that they'll be much more effective if they can rally some kind of international support. These things can't be done as acts of revenge or as politically-driven processes, that they have to be done through a legal process.
And I continue to believe it is not in our national interest to break off all dialogue between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation, but in the aftermath of this appalling act against our country, this relationship cannot be the same.
UK-Russia relations are in a extremely parlous state, and possibly even a dangerous state. The Russian state's response to all this is to attempt to intimidate and to deny, and clearly they will feel, just as the British government feels, that it has to respond strongly. The Russians evidently will feel that they have to respond strongly. So there is a sense that you're going to get locked into a downward spiral.
Many of us looked to deposed Soviet Russia with hope. We wanted a better relationship. And it is tragic that President Putin has chosen to act in this way.
The whole political picture of Putin is that he is the defender of Russia, that he is making Russia not just respected again, but feared again. And therefore, he is probably bound to respond in a very firm, over-the-top manner. You've already had the Russian foreign ministry referring to the fact that Russia is a nuclear power. It's a pretty overt threat to the United Kingdom. So it will require pretty strong nerves in Britain to maintain a firm line against Russia.
We will work with our allies and partners to confront such actions wherever they threaten our security at home and abroad. And I commend this statement to house.