Russia says UK may be behind ex-spy chemical attack
Russia says Britain may have been behind the poisoning of a former double agent and his daughter, deepening the diplomatic crisis between London and Moscow.
London is hiding facts and could destroy key evidence in the nerve agent attack, Vladimir Yermakov, head of the Russian foreign ministry's non-proliferation department, said Wednesday at a press conference in Moscow.
Speaking at a remarkable briefing given for all foreign ambassadors in Russia, Ermakov said that "either the British authorities are unable to protect from a terrorist attack on its territory or staged the attack themselves."
The British and the US ambassadors refused to attend the meeting and sent lower-level diplomats, instead.
On March 7, British authorities announced that Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, had been hospitalized after being found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in Salisbury.
British police attributed the critical illness of the two to a nerve agent developed by the former Soviet Union, and the British premier accused Moscow of being responsible.
Last week, UK Prime Minister Theresa May ordered the expulsion of Russian diplomats, claiming that it was "highly likely" that Russian government was involved in Skripal's poisoning.
Russia subsequently ordered the expulsion of 23 British diplomats in retaliation.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday that British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was poisoned by hatred, and that his comparison between Russia and Adolf Hitler's Germany was unacceptable.
Johnson had said Russian President Vladimir Putin would use this year's World Cup in much the same way as Hitler used the Olympics when it was held in Nazi Germany in 1936.
"Such parallels... are unacceptable and are beneath the head of a diplomatic body of a European state," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Facebook page.
"While there is no clarity with Skripal's poisoning... things about Boris Johnson are different. It is clear he is poisoned with hatred and anger, unprofessionalism and, therefore, boorishness," Zakharova added.
"It is scary to remember that this person represents political leadership of a nuclear power." she said.
London and Moscow have been blaming each other for the attack, turning it into their worst diplomatic crisis since the end of the Cold War.