MOSCOW, June 7. /TASS/. The British Consulate General in the Russian city of St. Petersburg has concluded its operations, Great Britain’s Ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow said at a reception.
He pointed out that the consulate general had been operating in the city for 26 years and it was not London’s choice to close it.
According to Bristow, British-Russian relations were going through hard times as London had to reconsider relations with Russia following the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury.
At the same time, he said that "the people to people links that we have built are even more important in these difficult times, and they will endure."
"We are working closely with the FIFA World Cup organizers and the Russian police to ensure that British fans have a safe and enjoyable tournament. That is our top priority," the British ambassador added.
According to London, 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 Salisbury on March 4. 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.
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 United Kingdom was also requested to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia so that it would match the number of Russian diplomats in Great Britain.