MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday suggested that the poisoning of a former double agent could benefit the British government by distracting attention from problems around Brexit.
The March 4 attack on Sergei 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 Russia and sent relations plunging to new post-Cold War lows.
“This could be in the interests of the British government which found itself in an uncomfortable situation having failed to fulfil promises to its electorate about the conditions for Brexit,” Mr Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow yesterday.
Mr Lavrov also suggested that the poisoning of the Skripals “could also be in the interests of the British special forces who are known for their abilities to act with a license to kill”.
“There could be a whole number of reasons and none of them can be ruled out,” Mr Lavrov said.
Britain has said it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for the attack using a nerve agent developed in the USSR, a view backed up by its Western allies.
But Russia denies any involvement and has called for Britain to give it access to the nerve agent used.
Mr Lavrov complained that the British authorities have still not given consular access to “our citizens,” and that the situation had not changed despite Yulia Skripal’s improved condition.
He said he hoped Sergei Skripal would “also follow this example” and get better.
Mr Lavrov also denied the attack was “sophisticated,” saying that if it had been, the victims would have died immediately.
“If I understand correctly, sophisticated attacks usually lead to instant death,” he said.