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UK is ‘hiding facts’ about ex-spy poisoning and may make them ‘disappear’ Russia claims

Vladimir Yermakov, deputy head of Russia’s department for non-proliferation, told diplomats that the UK was interfering in the investigation into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 March, 2018, 1:38am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 March, 2018, 2:22am

Senior Russian diplomatic and military officials have accused the UK of hiding and possibly planning to destroy evidence in the investigation into the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

The comments came during a remarkable briefing at Moscow’s foreign ministry given for all foreign ambassadors in Russia, to lay out the country’s argument why it is not responsible for the attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4.

Britain says they were poisoned with a nerve agent known as Novichok and has blamed Russia for the attack, but Moscow has fiercely denied any involvement. The case has prompted the two countries to expel diplomats in a tit-for-tat dispute.

Russia hits back in spy poisoning row

Speaking to a lecture hall of diplomats, Vladimir Yermakov, deputy head of the ministry’s department for non-proliferation, suggested that the UK was “hiding facts” about the case that may later “disappear.” 

Laurie Bristow, the British ambassador to Russia, did not attend and the ambassadors of other major allies, including the United States, Germany and France, also boycotted the briefing.

But one British diplomat did go. The UK diplomat slammed the “disinformation” coming from the Russian government during the briefing, which was closed to the press but live-streamed online.

“Russia has offered us so far no explanation of how this agent came to be used in the United Kingdom and no explanation as to why Russia has an undeclared chemical weapons programme in contravention of international law,” the diplomat told the five-person panel.

Putin dismisses charges Russia poisoned ex-spy in Britain

“We are not obliged to give anything to Great Britain,” Yermakov replied. “It is an attack on Russian citizens on the territory of Great Britain, so why don’t we carry out a joint investigation?”

The briefing lasted just under two hours.