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Putin discusses relations with UK, Eastern Ghouta situation with Security Council

March 15, 16:18 UTC+3

Russian President Vladimir Putin has held a meeting with members of the national Security Council

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MOSCOW, March 15. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and members of the national Security Council have discussed the effect the poisoning of ex-intelligence officer Sergei Skripal has had on Russia-UK relations, as well as the Syria issue, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Russia-UK crisis

"During the discussion of global affairs, there was a thorough exchange of views on the effect the so-called Skripal case has had on Russia-UK relations," he said.

"Great concern was expressed about the destructive and provocative stance taken by Great Britain," the Russian presidential spokesman added.

Former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an unknown nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4. They are currently in the hospital in critical condition. Skripal was earlier convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and exchanged for Russian intelligence officers.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union. On March 14, she accused Russia of an "unlawful use of force" against the United Kingdom and announced that London would expel 23 Russian diplomats and take other restrictive measures.

Russia has rejected all accusations and vowed to respond to the UK’s steps.

Syria issue

"The meeting’s participants also discussed the progress in resolving the Eastern Ghouta situation, taking notice of the ongoing exit of civilians and some emerging positive trends in the humanitarian situation," Peskov said.

Since late February, daily humanitarian pauses have been in effect in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, aimed at providing civilians and unarmed militants with an opportunity to leave the area. Militants disrupted humanitarian pauses in the first several days but later shelling attacks ceased, so civilians have been leaving the enclave through a humanitarian corridor every day.

Other issues

"Current social and economic issues were also discussed at the meeting," the Russian presidential spokesman added.

The meeting involved Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, State Duma (lower house of parliament) Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, Kremlin Administration Head Anton Vaino, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov, Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergei Naryshkin and Presidential Envoy for Environmental Protection, Ecology and Transport Sergei Ivanov.

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