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Russia to crank up pressure on UK over former spy’s poisoning case — envoy

On March 4, ex-intelligence officer Sergey Skripal aged 66, and his daughter Yulia, aged 33, came into contact with a nerve agent and were found unconscious in Salisbury

MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. Moscow intends to influence London over the poisoning of former colonel of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Alexander Yakovenko said on Rossiya 24 TV channel live on Friday.

"We will crank up pressure on the British government over this issue. We will not allow them leave this track for sure," he said.

Yakovenko believes that Britain has been using the affair of former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal for distracting attention from internal problems.

"The country is in grave condition in connection with Brexit. This causes strong pressures on the government [of Britain]: the government has been trying to think up evasive maneuvers in order to ease the pressure. This sort of aggression and political provocation that has been employed on the Russian track are very handy," Yakovenko said.

In his opinion, in the wake of the pullout from the European Union Britain has been "losing the leverage of political influence, so the country’s importance will be objectively dwindling."

"To stay afloat somehow it is crucial to obtaining a role in the Western world, first and foremost, probably with some emphasis on security," Yakovenko said.

"We try not to overreact at boorish statements and articles," he said, commenting on a statement made by British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, in which he had said that Russia should "go away" and "shut up". "We feel confident here in London as representatives of a great country," the Russian ambassador added.

According to Yakovenko, Russia believes it inappropriate to respond in the same manner.

On March 15, while speaking about Moscow’s possible retaliation over the UK’s measures taken in connection with the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, Williamson said that "Russia should go away, it should shut up - but if they do respond to the action that we have taken we will consider it carefully and we will look at our options."

On March 4, ex-intelligence officer Sergei Skripal aged 66, and his daughter Yulia, aged 33, came into contact with a nerve agent and were found unconscious on a bench in The Maltings shopping center in Salisbury. Both of them have been hospitalized and are presently in critical condition. British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of illegal use of force against her country, claiming that Moscow is behind the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter. In light of this, the UK leader stated that 23 Russian diplomats would be expelled and some other restrictive measures would be introduced. The Russian side refuted its alleged involvement in the incident and declared it would carry out tit-for-tat actions in the near future.