SYDNEY, March 15. /TASS/. Russian Ambassador to Australia Grigory Logvinov has harshly criticized one of the country’s leading newspapers, The Australian, "that breathes thunder and lightning regarding the allegedly doubtless guilt of Russia for the poisoning of Sergey Skripal - the former Russian Main Intelligence Directorate Colonel, who was in due time condemned for high treason."
His commentary was posted on the embassy’s website, while excerpts from it were published in The Australian and The Guardian.
"Russia is ready to help in the investigation of S.Skripal’s case, but as an equal partner, not as questioned and moreover ‘nominated’ defendant. It is surprising that the history of 20th and the early 21st century hasn’t taught some persons that it is impossible to speak to Russia in the language of ultimatums."
On March 4, former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergey Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia suffered from the effects of a nerve agent. They were found unconscious on a bench near a shopping center in Salisbury. Both are currently in the hospital in critical condition.
In 2004, Russia’s Federal Security Service (the FSB) arrested Skripal and, later on, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for high treason. Six years later, the former colonel was handed over to the US as part of a swap deal involving espionage suspects. Later that same year, Skripal settled down in Britain.
On March 12, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack on Skripal and his daughter. She said the substance used in the attack was a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union.
On March 14, the British prime minister accused Russia of an "unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom" and announced that London would expel 23 Russian diplomats over Skripal’s poisoning case. The diplomats will have a week to leave the country. Besides, London has revoked the invitation to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to pay a visit to the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Lavrov said that Moscow had nothing to do with the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, while London is trying to mislead the world public.
The United Nations Security Council gathered for a meeting at London’s request on March 14 to discuss the Skripal incident. UK Ambassador to the UN, Jonathan Allen, accused Russia of violating the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as, he claimed, it had not declared either the Novichok substance or facilities linked with its production. Russian Permanent Representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, refuted his statements stressing that Russia is ready to conduct a joint investigation with Britain after receiving the necessary evidence. However, Allen said London was not going to provide to Moscow any samples of the agent allegedly used to poison Skripal.