Moscow’s envoy to the United Nations has slammed the anti-Russia claims in the Skripal poisoning case as an “attack” against his country’s role on the international stage, especially its Syria peace efforts.
The Skripal case “questions [Russia's] legitimacy in general. It is an attack not only on our role in the Syrian peace settlement but on our role in the international arena in general,” Vasily Nebenzia said in an interview with Russian Channel One.
In March, Soviet-era spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping center in the UK city of Salisbury. The two are recovering in a British hospital.
The United Kingdom accused Moscow of orchestrating the attack with what UK experts claim was the A-234 nerve agent, similar to Novichok.
More than 20 countries have expelled Russian envoys in solidarity with the UK, following Britain’s initial expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats.
Moscow has strongly rejected the claims and responded by its own diplomat expulsions.
Nebenzia further said unprecedented pressure is being exerted on Russia despite London’s lack of evidence in support of its accusations against Moscow.
Nebenzia, however, expressed hope that after thorough investigation, the truth will come to light and those “who are initiating all this will have to regret that they have launched that [campaign] at all.”
Since January 2017, Russia, along with Iran and Turkey, has been mediating a peace process, which has brought Syria’s warring sides to the negotiation table and significantly reduced violence in the Arab country. Moscow has also been helping the Syrian army on the battlefield against terrorists.
The Western states, which have long backed the militants operating against the Syrian government, are unhappy with the achievements of the peace process in Astana, Kazakhstan.
‘UK sheltering Russian criminals’
Amid strained London-Moscow ties, Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chayka said the Skripal story is a repetitive scenario.
“The way the story of the former GRU officer Skripal’s poisoning is unfolding is not news for us,” he said.
He said over 60 criminals have fled from Russia to the UK since 2002, and that Moscow has sent requests to London for the extradition of those people who are either facing accusations or found guilty in Russia for economic misdeeds.
“The amount of damage is more than 0.5 trillion rubles ($87 billion). This is only the direct damage, and the scale of funds they have collected abroad is much higher,” he told Russian media.
Chayka added that UK officials are aware of some of the illegal activities of these Russian citizens, but still grant them asylum.
We call on “the British authorities [to act] in accordance with the norms of a civilized state, and not the principle of ‘rob what was robbed.’ I mean, they have stolen from Russia and now the UK will take everything into its budget. You can keep the criminals, but return the money,” he added.