Russian FM: Ex-spy's poisoning is a distraction from Brexit - InfoNews

Current Conditions

Clear
6.5°C

Russian FM: Ex-spy's poisoning is a distraction from Brexit

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during a joint news conference after the talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali in Moscow, Russia, Monday, April 2, 2018. Lavrov told reporters on Monday that Moscow is concerned that the United States has been "gaining a serious foothold" on the east bank of the Euphrates river despite Trump's earlier promises that the U.S. would leave when the Islamic State group is defeated. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
April 02, 2018 - 12:05 PM

MOSCOW - Russia's foreign minister accused Britain and the United States of spreading "lies and disinformation" about the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in England, declaring Monday that East-West tensions are worse now than during the Cold War.

Britain has blamed Russia for the March 4 nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. Britain and two dozen of its allies have expelled over 150 Russian diplomats. Moscow, which vehemently denies any involvement, has responded tit-for-tat.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced the British accusations on Monday as a "mad and horrible provocation." He argued that Russia had no motive to attack Skripal, who was released in 2010 spy swap from a Russian prison where he was serving time for spying for Britain.

"If there were any gripes against the man, he wouldn't have been swapped," Lavrov said.

Russia's top diplomat also mocked Britain's claim that there was no plausible alternative explanation for the poisonings of the Skripals. British intelligence agencies could have been involved and the case helped distract public attention from the British government's difficult talks to exit the European Union, Lavrov said.

"There are other explanations besides those put forward by our Western colleagues, who declare that it can only be the Russians who are responsible," Lavrov said. "It could also be advantageous to the British government, who clearly find themselves in a difficult situation having failed to fulfil their promises to voters over Brexit."

British officials have previously rejected similar Russian allegations.

Lavrov said that Russia has called a meeting of the international chemical weapons watchdog for Wednesday to discuss the case and asked it to provide details of its co-operation with Britain in the poisoning probe.

Alexander Shulgin, the Russian representative at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said Monday in televised remarks that the organization must conduct an "open, thorough and unbiased investigation" with Russian experts' participation.

British authorities invited OPCW experts to take chemical samples from Salisbury, the English city where the father and daughter were sickened, and to analyze them. Shulgin warned that Moscow won't accept the agency's conclusions unless Russian experts are allowed to take part in the process.

Lavrov also assailed the British authorities for stonewalling Russia's request for consular access to Yulia Skripal, 33, a Russian citizen whose condition has improved since she and her father fell critically ill on March 4.

"Many say that the situation now is worse than it was during the Cold War because some rules existed and decorum was observed back then," he said. "Now, Britain, the U.S. and a few countries blindly following them have dropped all decorum and engaged in blatant lies and disinformation."

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

  • Popular kamloops News
  • Comments
  • Woman found dead in car in Kamloops
    KAMLOOPS - A woman has been found dead and two men have been taken to hospital after they were found in a car playing loud music early this morning. Kamloops RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jodi Shel
  • Kamloops RCMP seek missing man
    KAMLOOPS - Police in Kamloops are asking for the public's help to find a missing man. James Harris, 53, has not been in contact with family or friends since late March and he was last se
  • Searching for a stranger: Dozens of people brought in by bus to look for Ryan Shtuka
    SUN PEAKS - It's been nearly 10 weeks since Ryan Shtuka went missing in the Sun Peaks area after leaving a house party on Burfield Drive, but volunteers are still showing up in droves hoping t
  • Broncos families surprised obituaries are on website selling services
    Some families of Humboldt Broncos bus crash victims are surprised to learn that error-riddled obituaries of their loved ones have been posted on a website that's selling flowers, as well as on
  • 18-year-old hitchhiker from Vernon missing
    VERNON – An 18-year-old Vernon woman has been missing for a week. Vernon RCMP say Aislynn Hanson was last seen, April 13, and despite following up on several leads, remains missing.
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile