Russian Foreign Minister: U.K., U.S. Spreading 'Lies And Disinformation'
RFE/RL April 02, 2018
Russia's top diplomat has accused the United States and Britain of spreading "lies and disinformation" about the nerve-agent poisoning of an ex-Russian double agent in England last month.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said on April 2 that tensions between Moscow and the West are now worse than during the Cold War.
Lavrov's comments were the latest back-and-forth between Russian and Western officials about the March 4 attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, in the English town of Salisbury.
Britain, the United States and two dozen allies have expelled over 150 Russian diplomats, and Moscow has responded in kind.
"Many say that the situation now is worse than it was during the Cold War because some rules existed and decorum was observed back then," Lavrov said during a joint news conference with Bangladesh's visiting foreign minister.
"Now, our Western partners, particularly, Britain, the U.S. and a few countries blindly following them have dropped all decorum and engaged in blatant lies and blatant disinformation."
Lavrov said that Russia had no reason to target Skripal, who was a colonel in Russia's military intelligence agency until he was arrested and charged with spying for Britain. He was released in a 2010 spy swap involving the United States and he moved to Britain.
"If there were any complaints against the man, he wouldn't have been swapped," Lavrov said.
Lavrov also mocked Britain's claim that there was no plausible alternative explanation for Russia's involvement, and he asserted British intelligence could have been involved.
British officials have previously rejected similar Russian allegations.
Skripal remains hospitalized in critical condition; his daughter Yulia has partially recovered.
Lavrov said that Russia has called for a meeting of the international watchdog overseeing the treaty banning chemical weapons -- the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW -- to discuss the case.
Also on April 2, the Russian envoy to the OPCW said in televised remarks that the organization's investigation must include the participation of Russian experts and that Moscow wouldn't accept the agency's conclusions without their involvement.
British authorities invited OPCW experts to take chemical samples from Salisbury to analyze them.
Amid the continuing expulsions of diplomats, Moscow said it would kick out a Montenegrin diplomat in response to the Balkan country's own expulsion of a Russian official.
Despite historic linguistic, religious, and economic ties, relations between Moscow and Podgorica have steadily worsened as Montenegro has sought closer relations with the West.
Montenegro's accession to NATO was met with an angry response by Moscow.
Montenegrin authorities have accused Russian intelligence of being behind an attempted coup in 2016.
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|