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Working contacts still in place, despite London’s suspension of high-level ones

March 21, 0:39 UTC+3 LONDON

According to the Russian diplomat, there are many things to be discussed and resolved, despite the strains in bilateral relations

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LONDON, March 20. /TASS/. Working contacts with the British side are still in place, despite London’s decision to suspend high-level political contacts, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Alexander Yakovenko said on Tuesday.

"We want to understand what is happening with the United Kingdom and what are its plans. And political contacts are still in place. Despite Britain’s denial to speak at high political level, working contacts are, naturally, maintained and the embassy will continue to take care of them," he said.

However he noted that London seems to limit contacts with Russian diplomats on some working issues. "We are in contact with both Moscow and with official London and I have a feeling that the Foreign Office is avoiding speaking with us on many matters, even at the working level," he said.

According to the Russian diplomat, there are many things to be discussed and resolved, despite the strains in bilateral relations. "The embassy will go on working as other political matters are still on the agenda. The country is now at the crossroads: the situation around their Brexit talks is very worrisome, companies are leaving London, but no one writes or speaks about it," Yakovenko noted. "But I have a feeling from my contacts with some companies that people are packing."

A serious diplomatic scandal erupted between Moscow and London early last week, following the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted of high treason in Russia, and his daughter Yulia. The two of them suffered the effects of a nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4. They are currently in the hospital in critical condition.

London accused Moscow of being involved in the attack but failed to present any evidence. British Prime Minister Theresa May said the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the former Soviet Union. On March 14, she accused Russia of an "unlawful use of force" against the United Kingdom and announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats and the suspension of high-level contacts.

Russia has rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations. On March 17, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that in response to the UK’s steps, 23 British diplomats would be expelled within a week, the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg would be closed and the British Council would have to shut down its operations in Russia. At the same time, Moscow pointed out that further measures could be taken "should there be any more hostile actions against Russia.".

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