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London deliberately seeks to undermine relations with Moscow — Lavrov

March 21, 2018, 8:44 UTC+3

The Russian top diplomat pointed out that Moscow insisted "on cooperation in full accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention"

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

© Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS

TOKYO, March 21. /TASS/. London deliberately seeks to undermine relations with Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday following talks with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono.

"There is no doubt that the current British authorities have deliberately taken a course aimed at undermining bilateral relations," he said.

"If they continue to pursue this course and take new actions against Russia… the principle of reciprocity is still in effect," the Russian top diplomat said.

Moscow expects that Tokyo’s contacts with London will help figure out the whereabouts of Skripal, as well as clarify matters concerning the investigation.

"We have expressed hope that our Japanese friends will maintain contacts with Great Britain in order to help figure out at least two things - where Mr. Skripal and his daughter are at the moment and why the British government has already come up with a verdict though the investigation is expected to take months," the Russian top diplomat said.

According to Lavrov, Moscow will continue to demand the UK clarify matters concerning the case, though Russia’s attempts have been in vain so far. "Mr. Kono has said that it is most important to clarify the facts related to this incident and we 100% agree with him," the Russian foreign minister said, adding that "we have confirmed Russia’s readiness to cooperate in the matter."

The Russian top diplomat also pointed out that Moscow insisted "on cooperation in full accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention." According to Lavrov, the questions Russia has "are totally professional, clear and specific, there is nothing irrelevant about them, which can’t be said about the British government’s position."

Lavrov advised London to stay calm in connection with the Skripal case.

"It would do good to everyone, first and foremost, to London, if the British authorities got over their nerves and tried to stay calm," Lavrov said.

The Russian top diplomat pointed out that London had hastily brought up accusations though the investigation was still underway. "A very interesting precedent has been added to the Anglo-Saxon law system," he noted.

'Weak accusations'

Western countries realize that London’s accusations against Moscow in the Skripal case are weak but they seem to be obliged to support the UK out of a misconceived sense of solidarity, Lavrov said.

"I think everybody understands everything perfectly well but they have to say words of support to London out of a misconceived sense of solidarity," Lavrov said.

According to him, Great Britain has been rushing around the world recently, calling on its partners to stand with London in the matter, but failing to present any facts.

Skripal case

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of a nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury. 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 of the United Kingdom’s accusations. On March 17, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that in retaliation 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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