LONDON, April 25. /TASS/. The UK Foreign Office has so far left unanswered the Russian embassy’s request about the information revealed in an article about the Salisbury incident, recently published by New York Times, the embassy said in a statement.
"To date, our request was left unanswered by the Foreign Office. It should be noted that the UK authorities have been demonstratively ignoring any other request related to the events in Salisbury and Amesbury and shun contacts on the issue. At the same time, they continue their wide use of anti-Russian rhetoric and embroil their Western bloc allies into the process," the statement reads.
New York Times said in an article on April 16 that US President Donald Trump was initially reluctant to expel Russian diplomats in the wake of the Salisbury incident, but changed his mind after a conversation with CIA Director Gina Haspel. The paper claimed that the president was shown images, received from the United Kingdom, showing children allegedly hospitalized after being exposed to the Novichok nerve agent, and photographs of ducks poisoned with the same substance. Trump was stirred by the images and gave the green light to the toughest response.
"Clarifying the situation appears to be in London’s interest too, because the public has new questions about what had happened. If the photographs of affected children and dead ducks really exist, then why they were not published immediately after the incident? Or was it a deliberate misinformation of not only own citizens, but of heads of other states as well, including the US leader?" the embassy said. "Instead of providing a detailed explanation, the conservative government prefers to stay silent, hoping that the issue of those faked photographs will simply be forgotten."
Russian diplomats added that the UK government’s reluctance to answer specific questions "gives grounds for serious concern" and damages the country’s image on the international arena.
According to London, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of 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, saying that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia ever had any program aimed at developing such a substance.
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.
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. Washington expelled 60 diplomatic workers and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.
The Russian Foreign Ministry later 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.