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Moscow states London launching campaign to stir up confrontation near Russia’s borders

The analysis of the Skripal poisoning case suggests the UK special services’ possible involvement in the incident, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry
Russian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Japaridze/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry
© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

MOSCOW, March 28. /TASS/. London is launching a campaign to foment confrontation and display power close to Russia’s borders, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

"London is launching a campaign all over the world to shape Russia’s total presumption of guilt," the ministry said. "The confrontation is consciously being fomented and power displayed close to Russia’s borders."

The analysis of the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury suggests the UK special services’ possible involvement in the incident, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Disregard for law

"The British authorities systematically demonstrate their inability to ensure security on their territory for Russian citizens," the ministry said.

"Such outrageous examples include, in particular, the poisoning of former Russian security officer Alexander Litvinenko, the deaths of Russian businessmen Badri Patarkatsishvili and Alexander Perepilichny under unascertained circumstances, the mysterious ‘suicide’ of Boris Berezovsky and the strangulation of his business partner Nikolai Glushkov and, finally, an attempt on the lives and the health of Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal," the statement reads.

In the latter case, London neglected all the norms of international law, ethics and simply common sense, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"Without producing any proofs and without even giving any concrete picture of what happened, London accused Russia of poisoning its own citizens, forced upon the chemical substance name never used in our country and launched a large-scale political and media campaign," the ministry noted.

"The unfounded expulsion of Russian diplomats from a whole number of countries and representative offices at international organizations was inspired and a set of other sanctions measures was announced. Our legitimate demands to provide samples of the substance that had been used were ignored," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Probe underway

Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a criminal case on March 16 into the deliberate murder of Yulia Skripal and prepared the corresponding inquiry to the British side, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

‘We expect concrete interaction from London within the framework of the investigation our law-enforcement agencies are conducting," the ministry noted.

The behavior of the British authorities causes many questions in Moscow: the UK population "is being kept unaware of the key moments of this incident declared as posing a serious threat and the total number of those hurt in it is unknown."

"The information on the activity of the secret laboratory in Porton Down near Salisbury where, as everyone knows, work was carried out to create chemical weapons, is being hushed up," the statement reads.

"Information is being concealed on the annual exercises Toxic Dragger held a day before the poisoning of the Skripals by this center jointly with the British military, which practiced the techniques of fighting chemical and biological contamination," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Shadow of British special services

As the Russian Foreign Ministry noted, by its efforts across the world, London is "unfolding a campaign to form the absolute presumption of Russia’s guilt."

"Efforts are underway to deliberately instigate confrontation and demonstrate force at the Russian borders. What is obvious is the line towards countering political and diplomatic interaction for the purpose of an impartial and all-embracing examination of the incident in Salisbury," the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.

"The analysis of the whole set of circumstances indicates that the British authorities are not interested in finding out the true motives and identifying the perpetrators of the crime in Salisbury and makes us think about the possible complicity of the UK special services in the incident," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"Unless the Russian side is given convincing evidence to the contrary, we will consider the case as an attempt on the lives of our fellow citizens as a result of the biggest political provocation," the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.

"The burden of proofs in this story is borne precisely by the British side," the statement says.

Skripal case

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and exchanged for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury. Police said they had allegedly been exposed to a nerve agent. Both are in the hospital in a critical condition.

London immediately accused Russia of being involved, but failed to produce any evidence. UK Prime Minister Theresa May blamed Russia for "unlawful use of force" against her country. She identified the alleged substance used in the attack as the Novichok nerve agent, developed in the former Soviet Union. The UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow.

Russia has flatly rejected these allegations pointing out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia had any programs to develop that substance. In response, Moscow expelled the same number of British diplomats from Russia and ordering to close the British Consulate-General in St. Petersburg and shut down the British Council’s offices in Russia.

However, Washington announced on Monday its decision to expel 60 Russian diplomats, including 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, demanding they leave the country within a week. Apart from that, it said Russia’s Consulate General in Seattle would be closed.

In a show of solidarity, Germany, Canada, Poland and France have decided to expel four diplomats each, Lithuania, Moldova and the Czech Republic - three each, Australia, Albania, Denmark, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands - two each, Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Macedonia, Norway, Romania, Finland, Croatia, Sweden and Estonia - one each, while Ukraine decided to kick out 13 Russian diplomats.

NATO has reduced the staff of Russia’s mission from 30 to 20 while Bulgaria and Luxembourg are recalling their ambassadors from Russia for consultations. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said the unfriendly step by these countries won’t be left unanswered.