Economy

Spy poisoning could be in interests of British government, says Lavrov

Spy poisoning could be in interests of British government, says Lavrov

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has said the United Kingdom could be behind the former spy's poisoning, accusing the West of playing "children's games".

The March 4 attack on Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury has triggered a wave of tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats between the West and Russian Federation and sent relations plunging to new post-Cold War lows. Russian Federation said their deeper cut is so the two nations have parity in representation.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday suggested the British government could be behind the poisoning of a former double agent that has triggered an unprecedented wave of tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats. Britain claims it was the Soviet-manufactured nerve agent Novichok and has said Russian Federation is likely responsible, which Moscow adamantly denies.

Two planes from Washington and NY reportedly landed at Moscow's Vnukovo airport carrying US-based diplomats and their families.

Russian officials and state television have in turn come up with several different theories to explain the poisoning.

Russia has also expelled another 60 American diplomats after President Donald Trump announced the United States would expel as many Russian diplomats. London expelled 23 Russian diplomats, while the U.S. sent home 60 alleged "spies" and closed Russia's consulate in Seattle. Hundreds of diplomats are being expelled from both the West and Russian Federation in the dispute. Britain and two dozen of its allies have expelled over 150 Russian diplomats.

On Monday Mr Lavrov said it was wrong to target diplomats who "by definition meant to support relations, resolve complicated situations and find way out of difficulties".

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"That's why we are open to dialogue and hope to rebuild trust bit by bit if Russian Federation is willing to do so".

But Matteo Salvini, leader of the pro-Russian, nativist Northern League and a potential prime minister, angrily criticized this decision, as did the leader of a smaller far-right party, another possible member of a future coalition, who declared it "unacceptable that a caretaker government has expelled two staffers at the Russian embassy".

Lavrov claimed Skripal had previously been "pardoned" and Moscow "could not have a possible motive" to attack him.

The warning, posted Saturday on the embassy website, said it reflected "the anti-Russian policy, the growing threatening rhetoric of the British side (and) the British government's selective actions against Russian individuals and legal entities". The Russian embassy even urged fans of football team CSKA Moscow flying to London for Thursday's Europa match with Arsenal to exercise "extra vigilance" because of Britain's "anti-Russian campaign". Zakharova also told reporters in Moscow that Britain is breaking global law by refusing to provide information on the case.

It said this was a response to Britain's "provocative actions" and "baseless accusations over the Salisbury incident".

On Saturday, Moscow indicated as many as 50 more British diplomatic staff would be kicked out for the sake of parity. Bristow was summoned by Moscow along with the heads of missions from 23 other countries - a lot of them European Union member states - who were told that some of their diplomats had to leave.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is urging Australians to reconsider travelling to Russian Federation, with government officials warning of anti-Western sentiment. However the travel advisory said the government was not aware of "any increased difficulties for Australians travelling in Russian Federation at this time".

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