LONDON, May 4. /TASS/. The United Kingdom sees its chief goal in preserving the anti-Russian coalition after the Salisbury incident, Russia’s Embassy to London said on Friday.
The embassy commented on the Guardian article which reported that London would use a series of this year’s international summits "to call for a comprehensive strategy to combat Russian disinformation and urge a rethink over traditional diplomatic dialogue with Moscow."
"Judging by the publication, the main current challenge for Whitehall is to preserve the anti-Russian coalition that the Conservatives tried to build after the Salisbury incident," the embassy said. "This task is challenging indeed. The ‘fusion doctrine’ promoted by the national security apparatus has led to the Western bloc taking hasty decisions that, as life has shown, were not based on any facts."
The Russian Embassy was skeptical over London’s future intentions to maintain anti-Russian sentiment among members of international community.
"It is hard to see how they will be able to sell this to their international partners. Self-respecting countries of G20 would not be willing to risk their reputation," it said.
According to London, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia.
However, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow without presenting any evidence of its involvement in the incident. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, Russia expelled 23 British diplomats, closed the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg, while the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia.
In the wake of the Skripal incident, a number of EU member countries, the United States, Canada and Australia announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Washington expelled 60 diplomatic workers and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.
The Russian Foreign Ministry later announced retaliatory measures against counties that had expelled Russian diplomats. In particular, Moscow expelled 60 US diplomats and closed the US consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg. The United Kingdom was requested to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia so that it would match the number of Russian diplomats in Great Britain.