Russia’s intelligence chief says Britain’s new accusations against Moscow in the so-called Skripal case are mere lies devised to cover up London’s other lies or support previous ones.
Back on March 4, 2018, British authorities said that Russia’s ex-double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, had been hospitalized after they were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in the city of Salisbury.
Later on, London said both victims had been exposed to Novichok, a highly lethal chemical weapon purportedly developed under a secret Soviet program, accusing Moscow of carrying out an attempted murder yet declining the Kremlin’s request for a sample of the chemical agent.
Moscow has since then vehemently and repeatedly rejected any involvement, stressing that the substance could have originated from the countries studying Novichok, including the UK itself, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Sweden.
The case triggered one of the biggest rows between Russia and the West since the conclusion of the Cold War, and led to the retaliatory expulsion of dozens of diplomats.
In 2018, British prosecutors charged two Russians with alleged conspiracy to murder the double-agent and the attempted murder of his daughter Yulia and a British police officer.
On Tuesday, British police said that a third Russian national had also been charged in absentia with the "attack", claiming that the three suspects were operatives working for the Russian military intelligence.
Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergei Naryshkin denounced the new accusations as mere lies, stressing that London makes them in an attempt to divert attention from other issues.
“This is an attempt to cover up another lie or to support a previous lie,” he said.
“Given the recent developments in Afghanistan, it's also perhaps an attempt to distract the public from the shame, the escape of primarily US troops and their allies, including the UK, from Afghanistan. It's an attempt to distract the public from the fact that NATO is no longer able to maintain security in various parts of the world,” Naryshkin further said.
The US-led NATO is under fire for its chaotic withdrawal from the war-torn Afghanistan, where the Taliban militant group ousted the government in Kabul in mid-August following lightning advances across the country.
The Russian foreign ministry on Tuesday had said that London was using the poisoning case to intentionally sabotage Britain-Russia relations.