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Russian Embassy to the UK hopes for a meeting between the Ambassador and Boris Johnson

The Embassy spokesman said the meeting was long overdue
Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko Yui Mok/PA via AP
Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko
© Yui Mok/PA via AP

LONDON, April 7. /TASS/. Russia's diplomatic mission in Britain believes that a meeting between Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will be organized soon, a Russian embassy spokesman said on Saturday when asked about the current state of cooperation with the British Foreign Office regarding the Salisbury incident.

"Unfortunately, we cannot say that the current level of cooperation between the embassy and the Foreign Office is satisfactory. It seems that a long overdue meeting of Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko with the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson should be organized for discussion of the whole range of bilateral relations, as well as the investigation of the Salisbury incident. In this respect, Yakovenko has sent a personal note to Johnson. We hope the British side will come up with a constructive response, and expect such a meeting to be organized in the near future," he said.

 The British Foreign Office replied it would will consider the Russian embassy’s request in due course.

"We will of course consider their request and respond in due course," a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

At the same time, the spokesperson added that Moscow’s response to the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter "has been unsatisfactory."

"It's over three weeks since we asked Russia to engage constructively and answer a number of questions relating to the attempted assassinations of Mr Skripal and his daughter," the Foreign Office spokesperson said. "Now, after failing in their attempts in the UN and international chemical weapons watchdog this week and with the victims' condition improving, they seem to be pursuing a different diversionary tactic," she added.

Russian Ambassador to the UK urged the British authorities at a press conference earlier this week to ensure international experts’ participation in the investigation into the incident in Salisbury, where former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter were allegedly exposed to a nerve agent. Yakovenko added that Moscow wants to make sure that the investigation is transparent, with representatives of both NATO and the EU, as well as Russia, India, China, Latin America, Africa participating. He pointed out that London had not yet unveiled any information about the ongoing investigation and urged the British authorities to do it as soon as possible.

Skripal incident

On March 4, 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. 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.

On April 3, Chief Executive of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down Gary Aitkenhead told Sky News that British experts had been unable to identify the origin of the nerve agent used to attack Skripal and his daughter.

However, in the wake of the Salisbury incident, 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 later requested to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia so that it would match the number of Russian diplomats in Great Britain.