STOCKHOLM, April 7. /TASS/. Moscow will not allow anyone to make ultimate-like demands of explanation in the Skripal case, a source in the Russian embassy in Sweden told TASS, commenting on statements by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, in which they said that Moscow was the only one likely to be responsible for the incident and thus must provide explanations.
"Although Great Britain has not provided a single evidence to prove its allegations against Russia, Stockholm has once again flatly accused Moscow of challenging the international legal order," the source said. "It is perfectly clear that Sweden has brushed aside the principle of presumption of innocence, choosing to act on the principle that goes ‘let the one accused explain himself,’ instead of asking London to explain its accusations against Russia. Moscow will not be a sacrificial goat for anyone and will not allow anyone to make ultimate-like demands of explanation," the embassy added.
Wallstrom said earlier in an interview with the TT news agency that according to the European Union’s common position, Russia was the only one likely to be responsible for the Skripal incident, which was Moscow’s another challenge to the international legal order. Lofven, in turn, told the Swedish Radio broadcaster that if Russia had nothing to do with the incident it should explain it in a proper way.
In late March, in the wake of the Skripal incident, a number of EU member countries, the United States, Canada and Australia announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Sweden expelled one Russian diplomat.
"We believe that Sweden’s decision to expel a Russian diplomat in solidarity with Great Britain is unacceptable, groundless, unprecedented and unforgivable. Sweden may have to regret its hasty decision to follow the misinterpreted principle of alliance solidarity while ignoring the truth and common sense," the Russian embassy said.
On March 4, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia.
However, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow without presenting any evidence of its involvement in the incident. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, Russia expelled 23 British diplomats, closed the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg, while the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced retaliatory measures against counties that had expelled Russian diplomats. In particular, Moscow expelled 60 US diplomats and closed the US consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg. The United Kingdom was requested to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia so that it would match the number of Russian diplomats in Great Britain.