International News

UK playing with fire in Russian double-agent case: UN envoy

Russia has warned Britain that it “will be sorry” for falsely accusing Moscow of carrying out a chemical attack against a former double-agent.
“We have told our British colleagues that you are playing with fire and you will be sorry,” Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told a meeting of the UN Security Council Thursday.
Russia called the special meeting to discuss last month’s attack on Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter who were found unconscious outside a shopping mall in Salisbury.
London has accused Moscow of carrying out the attack using the deadly nerve agent Novichok.
Nebenzia said at the Security Council that the accusations were “horrific and unsubstantiated” and only catered to the UK’s “propaganda war” against Russia.
“It’s some sort of theater of the absurd. Couldn’t you come up with a better fake story?” he asked.
The Russian envoy also rejected the British reasoning on Novichok’s origin, saying the poison was “not copyrighted by Russia, in spite of the obviously Russian name,” and that it had been researched by other countries.
Moscow says apart from Russia, a host of other countries, including the UK itself and even Sweden, have studied and probably developed the substance.
In a rather sarcastic counter-argument, Nebenzia said that even if Russia wanted to eliminate someone, it would have done so through the “hundreds of clever ways of killing someone” shown in British series Midsomer Murders instead of opting for such a “dangerous and highly public” method.
Responding to Nebenzia, British Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce accused Russia of challenging international institutions “that have kept us safe since the Second World War.”
Pierce also argued that there was good reason to suspect Russia carried out the attack on Skripal, namely Moscow’s “record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations” and the common view in the Kremlin that defectors were “suitable targets for assassination.”
British officials have on several occasions drawn parallels between Skripal’s case and the 2006 mysterious poisoning of another Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko.
An outspoken critic of Putin who fled to Britain in 2000, Litvinenko died after drinking green tea poisoned with radioactive isotope polonium-210 at a London hotel.
Russia arrested Skripal on espionage charges two years before Litvinenko’s death and handed the double-agent a 13-year jail sentence. However, the former spy was released in 2010 as part of a UK-Russian spy swap.