MOSCOW — The crisis between Russia and the West over the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain heightened Friday as Russia ordered new cuts to the number of British envoys in the country.

Russia also summoned 23 foreign ambassadors to inform them that some of their diplomats would be expelled, a day after ordering 60 U.S. diplomats to leave and demanding that Washington’s consulate in St. Petersburg close on short notice.

The massive expulsion of diplomats on both sides has reached a scale unseen even at the height of the Cold War.

Two dozen countries, along with NATO, ordered out more than 150 Russian diplomats this week in a show of solidarity with Britain over the nerve-agent poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain that London blamed on Russia.

Moscow has vehemently denied involvement in the March 4 nerve agent attack in the English city of Salisbury and announced the expulsion of the same number of diplomats from each nation.

The ministry escalated its response Friday, saying it has ordered Britain to reduce the number of its diplomats in Moscow to the level that Russia has in London.

The exact number wasn’t immediately clear, but state news agency RIA Novosti agency quoted an unidentified Russian diplomat as saying the number of British diplomatic personnel in Russia exceeds the number of Russian envoys in Britain by more than 50 people.

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