MOSCOW, April 2. /TASS/. The poisoning of former Russian military intelligence Colonel turned British spy Sergei Skripal could have been carried out for various reasons and was beneficial to Britain’s special services or the government, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.
"There are other explanations besides the ones, which our Western colleagues trumpet that only ‘the Russian trace’ can be considered to be the final verdict," Lavrov said.
"Experts say this may be rather advantageous for Britain’s special services, which are known for their ability to act with a license to kill. This can be also beneficial to the British government which found itself in an inconvenient situation after failing to fulfill its promises to voters on Brexit’s conditions," the top diplomat pointed out.
Relations between Moscow and London have deteriorated sharply over the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who was earlier sentenced in Russia for spying for the UK, and his daughter Yulia, who on March 4 were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury. Police said they had been exposed to a nerve agent.
Later, London claimed that the toxin of Novichok-class had been allegedly developed in Russia. With that, the UK rushed to accuse Russia of being involved, while failing to produce any evidence. Moscow refuted the accusations that it had been involved in the incident and points out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia has ever done research into that toxic chemical.
Without providing any proof, London expelled 23 Russian diplomats and suspended all planned high-level bilateral contacts. In response, Moscow expelled the equal number of UK diplomats. In addition, Britain’s consulate in St. Petersburg was ordered to be closed and the British Council’s operations in Russia were terminated.
On March 26, the United States ordered 60 Russian diplomats, including 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, to leave the United States within a week. In addition, Russia’s consulate in Seattle was announced to be closed.
On top of this, 24 European countries along with Australia, Georgia and Canada also announced their decisions to expel Russian diplomats, while NATO reduced the delegation of the Russian mission with the organization from 30 to 20.