British-Russian relations hit a new low after both countries expelled a member of each other's Embassy staff in a tit-for-tat measure over a spying spat, according to media reports.
Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons in a written statement that the government had 'clear evidence' that a Russian official had been spying on Britain, British media reported.
“On December 10 we requested that the Russian Embassy in London withdraw a member of their staff from the UK,” Hague said in his statement, claiming that based on a clear evidence Russian intelligence services had been carrying out acts of espionage on the UK.
“Russia responded on December 16 by requesting the removal of a member of our Embassy staff in Moscow. We reject any basis for this action,” added Hague.
Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the UK government's decision as “unfriendly and unfounded.”
The Foreign Ministry statement said that Britain will be held responsible for the consequences of the incident.
The ministry expressed regrets that the British action came at a time when the two nations were witnessing positive trends in bilateral relations.