‘Don’t take the words of the British for granted’ – Russia's UK envoy on Skripal case

22 Mar, 2018 12:11 / Updated 4 years ago

When it comes to allegations against Russia, the UK government cannot be trusted, so other nations would be wise to demand proof, Russia’s ambassador in London said, commenting on the Skripal poisoning saga.

“Don’t take the words of the British for granted,” Alexander Yakovenko told journalists during a press conference at the Russian Embassy when asked what his advice to European nations would be on the unfolding UK-Russian conflict. “I am quoting Ronald Reagan: trust but verify.”

The ambassador spoke to the media on Thursday to denounce what he called a “hysterical anti-Russian campaign” conducted by the British government and media outlets over the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and two other people, his daughter Yulia and a police officer, in Salisbury. Prime Minister Theresa May accused the Kremlin of ordering a chemical weapon attack against the man and has been rallying Britain’s allies against Moscow.

Yakovenko accused Britain of fanning up anti-Russian sentiment at home and in other nations by deliberately misrepresenting facts about the case in a way that points the finger at Russia. At the same time, Britain has been stonewalling Russia’s attempts to engage with the probe through the proper channel – the Organization for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons (OPCW), he said. The “British side is deliberately ignoring our requests and avoids contact with the embassy.”

The Russian ambassador said OPCW inspectors have finally arrived in Britain to do their part in the investigation of the incident. While Russia does not know the scope of their mandate, Yakovenko said Moscow hopes they will be able to provide answers which Russia has failed to receive from Britain.

“How that was possible that the British authorities managed to designate the nerve agent use as so-called Novichok [A-234] and its origin so quickly? Could it mean that it’s ‘highly likely’ that the British authorities already had this nerve agent in their chemical laboratory in Porton Down, which is the largest secret military facility in the UK that has been dealing with chemical weapons? Is it a coincidence that this chemical weapons facility is only eight miles away from the site of the incident? How did doctors decide what antidotes to administer to the victims?” he asked.

He added that Russian experts familiar with chemical weapons were “puzzled” by the speed in identifying the toxic compound. This contradicts statements by Scotland Yard that the investigation of the Skripal case would take weeks or even months, the ambassador said.

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