On March 4, the British police found 66-year-old former GRU Colonel and double agent Sergey Skripal, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia unconscious on a bench in Salisbury. Later, came the discovery that the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok nerve agents, developed by the Soviet military. The British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of the Skripals poisoning, calling it a "reckless act" against the United Kingdom. May also issued an ultimatum, demanding that Moscow provide explanations on how the Soviet-era nerve agent was used to poison the former Russian double agent.
However, the deadline (March 13 after midnight) expired without any Russian explanation. Russia simply denied any involvement in the poisoning, and announced that it would not respond to May's ultimatum until Britain supplied Moscow with samples of the nerve agent. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov also declared that the Skripal case was of no concern to Russia: "The aforesaid Russian citizen had worked for one of Britain’s secret services. The incident occurred in British territory. By all means this is not an affair that concerns Russia, let alone Russia’s leadership." Russian MFA spokesperson Maria Zakharova ridiculed Britain's accusations against Moscow as "insane" and a "circus show". While the Russian Embassy to the UK, preempted the obvious parallel to the Litvinenko case, by tweeting on its official account stated that the British accusations have no credibility: "The investigation of Sergei Skripal case follows the Litvinenko script: most info to be classified, Russia to get no access to investigation files and no opportunity to assess its credibility."
Meanwhile, after the ultimatum's expiry, Britain began taking punitive measures against Moscow and expelled 23 Russian diplomats. May also pledged that her government will send proposals for new legislative powers to harden British defenses against "hostile state activity" to ensure that those seeking to carry out such activity cannot enter the UK, and would suspend all planned high-level contacts between the UK and Russia. The Russian state media outlet RT may also be banned in the UK.
In addition to the nerve agents' Soviet provenance, the poisoning was consistent with statements made by prominent Russians. Russian Channel One TV's presenter Kirill Kleymenov issued an apparent threat to other "traitors" residing in the UK. Kleimenov said that "the traitor is the most dangerous work in the world", and warned "those who hate their country" not to choose England as their next place of residence.
Recently, a 2010 video showing Russian President Vladimir Putin threatening "traitors" also re-emerged. In the video, Putin, who was then Prime Minister, reacted to the 2010 exchange of Russian undercover spies in the United States for Russian agents accused of collaborating with the West, including Skripal. Putin stated:
"Traitors will kick the bucket. Trust me. These people betrayed their friends, their brothers in arms. Whatever they got in exchange for it, those 30 pieces of silver they were given, they will choke on them."
Commenting on the Skripals case, Russian sociologist Igor Eidman wrote on his Facebook account in a post titled "We will strike back at sanction with rockets and poisons" that Putin's policy is to intimidate the West, and the Skripals' case is part and parcel of this policy:
"A German film director working on an anti-Putin film complained to me that many Germans are now afraid to cooperate with him, they were badly frightened by the poisoning of Skripal, his daughter and the random victims of the terror attack in Salisbury. This means that the poisoners have achieved their goal. They not only took revenge on the 'traitor', but sent a message to others. Those who attacked Skripal wanted above all to intimidate the West. Hence the socially dangerous manner of the terrorist act and the open brazenness of its organizers. By this crime, Putin sends a message to the Europeans: 'You are our hostages, we can poison half of Europe if we wish so, and you won't even dare to utter a peep.'
"Just recently he blackmailed the West with his 'super-weapon' and readiness for a nuclear war, and now he is trying to intimidate it with a mass poisoning of people in the center of Britain. These are links of a single chain. This is Putin's way to present to the world the foreign policy of his new presidential term. It can be summed up as follows: 'strike at sanctions with rockets and poisons'.
"However, in the long run this policy is doomed to failure. Describing his new 'super-weapon,' Putin complained that 'nobody listened to us' and demanded 'listen to us now.' By blackmailing and terrorizing the West, he aims to force it into love. The Russian dictator is acting like a bully threatening to poison the beloved cat of a classmate who spurned him. You can't build relations on fear. The chances of persuading the girl to love you this way are zero. This blackmail can cause nothing but revulsion. And the blackmailer will sooner or later end up brutally beaten."
Below is a compilation of Russian and British official reactions:
Caption: "He was actually a British spy, working for MI6."
(Source: Twitter.com/RussianEmbassy, March 8, 2018)
Caption: "Investigation of Sergei Skripal case follows the Litvinenko script: most info to be classified, Russia to get no access to investigation files and no opportunity to assess its credibility" (Source: Twitter.com/RussianEmbassy, March 9, 2018)
Caption: "What a coincidence! Both Litvinenko and Skripal worked for MI6. Berezovsky and Perepilichny were linked to UK special services. Investigation details classified on grounds of national security". (Source: Twitter.com/RussianEmbassy, March 10, 2018)
Caption: "Those calling for Russian diplomat's expulsion don't care about Global Britain and its diplomats in Moscow" (Source: Twitter.com/RussianEmbassy, March 13, 2018)
Caption: "Any Threat to take 'punitive' measures against Russia will meet with a response. The british side should be aware of that." (Source: Twitter.com/RussianEmbassy, March 13, 2018)
- March 14 – Statement By Russia's MFA: Our Response Measures Will Not Be Long In Coming
- March 13 – UK Foreign Secretary Johnson Spoke To The BBC On Holding The Russian Government To Account For How The Novichok Nerve Agent Could Have Been Deployed In The UK
- March 13 - UK Ambassador Summoned To The Russian MFA
- March 13 - Statement by Permanent Representative Of The Russian Federation To The OPCW, Ambassador Alexander Shulgin: 'Stop Fomenting Hysteria'
- March 13 – Russian FM Lavrov’s Answers To Media Questions: Russia Is Not Guilty
- March 12 – UK PM May Updated The House of Commons: This Attempted Murder Was Not Just A Crime Against The Skripals, But It Was A Reckless Act Against The United Kingdom
- March 12 – Russian Embassy To The BBC: Current Policy Of The UK Government Towards Russia Is A Dangerous Game Played With The British Public Opinion
- March 9 –Russian FM Lavrov: 'It Is Again Propaganda And Stirring Up Hysteria'
- March 7 – Russian MFA Spokesperson Zakharova: A Media Background Will Be Stirred Up And Then Everything Will Eventually Be Classified
- March 6 - UK Foreign Secretary Johnson To The House Of Commons: 'This Government Will Take Whatever Measures We Deem Necessary To Protect The Lives Of The People In This Country, Our Values And Our Freedoms'
- March 6 – Russian Embassy Answers Back To UK Foreign Secretary Johnson: We Regret That He Chose To Threaten Russia With Retribution
- March 6- Russian Embassy In The UK Comments On Skripal's Poisoning: The Media Are Launching A New Phase Of Anti-Russian Campaign In Britain
March 14 – Statement By Russia's MFA: Our Response Measures Will Not Be Long In Coming
After UK PM Theresa May's speech, the Russian MFA posted the following statement in its website:
"The March 14 statement made by British Prime Minister Theresa May in Parliament on measures to 'punish' Russia, under the false pretext of its alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter, constitutes an unprecedented, flagrant provocation that undermines the foundations of normal dialogue between our countries.
"We believe it is absolutely unacceptable and unworthy of the British Government to seek to further seriously aggravate relations in pursuit of its unseemly political ends, having announced a whole series of hostile measures, including the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the country.
"Instead of completing its own investigation and using established international formats and instruments, including within the framework of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – in which we were prepared to cooperate – the British Government opted for confrontation with Russia. Obviously, by investigating this incident in a unilateral, non-transparent way, the British Government is again seeking to launch a groundless anti-Russian campaign.
"Needless to say, our response measures will not be long in coming."
(Mid.ru, March 14, 2018)
March 13 – UK Foreign Secretary Johnson Tells The BBC That The Russian Government Will Be Held To Account For Deployment Of Novichok Nerve Agent In The UK
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the BBC:
"The first thing is to get over to our friends and partners exactly what has happened, and that’s what we’ve been doing today. As the Prime Minister explained yesterday, this is a brazen attempt to murder people – innocent people – on UK soil. The policeman is still in hospital.
"It’s overwhelmingly likely, or highly likely that the Russian state was involved. And the use of this nerve agent would represent the first use of nerve agents on the continent of Europe since the Second World War.
"Clearly what we’re doing today is giving Russia until midnight tonight to explain how it came to be that Novichok was used on the streets of Wiltshire. If they can come up with a convincing explanation then obviously we will want to see full disclosure of that to the Organizations for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.
"If not, then clearly we will want to be announcing the UK response, and that would come tomorrow. In the meantime, what we’ve been doing is talking to friends and partners, explaining what we see as the high likelihood of Russian State agency.
"I’ve been very encouraged so far by the strength of the support that we are getting. I think in particular from President Macron of France, Sigmar Gabriel, my German counterpart, and from Washington, where Rex Tillerson last night made it very clear that he sees this as part of a pack of increasingly disruptive behavior by Russia – the reckless use of chemical weapons that stretches from Syria to the streets of Salisbury. I’ve been encouraged by the willingness of our friends to show support and solidarity.
"It’s important that we wait until the deadline has passed. You’ve got to do this correctly. We’ve given the Russians until midnight to explain how the Novichok could have come to be on the streets of Britain. We cannot exclude that they have an explanation and we will want a full disclosure to the chemical weapons watchdog in the Hague. If not, there is a package of measures that we would use.
"It is very important that people understand the gravity of what has happened and the outrage that the British government feels about the use of nerve agents, use of chemical weapons, against innocent members of the public, against an innocent police officer, on UK soil. We will make sure that our response is, as I told the House last week, commensurate but robust."
(Gov.uk, March 13, 2018)
March 13 - UK Ambassador Summoned To The Russian MFA
The Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Russia Laurence Bristow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry. In the meeting the following was stressed:
- First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov protested the accusations by the UK authorities of Russia’s alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
- It was stated that the actions of the UK authorities are a clear provocation and that Russia was not involved in poisoning.
- It was emphasized that Moscow will not respond to London’s ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance to which the UK investigators are referring and until the UK demonstrates compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention that stipulates a joint investigation into the incident, for which Moscow is ready.
The MFA states as well: "The incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia. Any threat to take 'punitive' measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that."
(Rusemb.org.uk, March 13, 2018)
Caption: "Without that, there can be no sense in any statements from London. The incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia".
(Source: Twitter.com/RussianEmbassy, March 13, 2018)
March 13 - Statement by The Russian Federation's Permanent Representative Of The Russian Federation To The OPCW, Ambassador Alexander Shulgin: 'Stop Fomenting Hysteria'
The Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ambassador Alexander Shulgin, at the 87th session of the OPCW Executive Council on the chemical incident in Salisbury at The Hague, said:
"… In connection with the vicious attacks launched by British officials in London, as well as the statement by the head of the British delegation to the OPCW with regard to Russia concerning the suspicious story of two persons poisoned with a toxic agent in Salisbury, we would like to state the following.
"The British authorities’ unfounded accusations of Russia’s alleged involvement in using poisonous agents on their territory are absolutely unacceptable. Our British colleagues should recall that Russia and the United Kingdom are members of the OPCW which is one of the most successful and effective disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms. We call upon them to abandon the language of ultimatums and threats and return to the legal framework of the chemical convention, which makes it possible to resolve this kind of situation.
"If London does have serious reasons to suspect Russia of violating the CWC - and the statement read by distinguished Ambassador Peter Wilson indicates directly that this is so - we suggest that Britain immediately avail itself of the procedures provided for by paragraph 2 of Article 9 of the CWC. They make it possible, on a bilateral basis, to officially contact us for clarifications regarding any issues that raise doubts or concerns.
"We would also like to emphasize that such clarifications under the Convention are provided to the requesting member state as soon as possible, but in any case no later than 10 days following receipt of the request. As such, the ultimatum’s demand that information be provided immediately, by the end of today, is absolutely unacceptable.
"Our British colleagues should save their propaganda fervor and slogans for their unenlightened domestic audience, where perhaps they will have some effect. Here, within the walls of a specialized international organization, such as the OPCW, one must use facts and nothing but the facts. Stop fomenting hysteria, go ahead and officially formalize your request to begin consultations with us in order to clarify the situation. A fair warning, we will require material evidence of the alleged Russian trace in this high-profile case. Britain’s allegations that they have everything, and their world-famous scientists have irrefutable data, but they will not give us anything, will not be taken into account. For us, this will mean that London has nothing substantial to show, and all its loud accusations are nothing but fiction and another instance of the dirty information war being waged on Russia. Sooner or later, they will have to be held accountable for their lies.
"In addition, in this particular case, it would be legitimate for the British side to seek assistance from the OPCW Technical Secretariat in conducting an independent laboratory analysis of the available samples that allegedly show traces of nerve agents in Salisbury…"
(Mid.ru, March 13, 2018)
March 13 – Russian FM Lavrov Responding To Questions From The Media: Russia Is Not Guilty
Q: "How will Russia respond to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s demand to provide an explanation over the poisoning of Sergey Skripal in one day? What will Moscow’s reaction be if the British government takes the promised restrictive measures in this case?"
Sergey Lavrov: "We have heard the ultimatum from London. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova has already commented on our attitude to this. I can only add that Great Britain, as well Russia, are part of the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the Prime Minister and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs are well aware of this. I have no doubt that there are still plenty of experts who work with this convention and its issues, and those of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons established in accordance with this convention. I think (actually, I am sure) that they have their experts but evidently nobody is listening to them.
According to the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in cases of suspected use of a toxic substance banned by the convention the country affected should immediately address the country that is suspected of the production of this particular poisonous substance. The query must be answered within ten days. If the answer does not satisfy the first country (Britain in this case) it should address the OPCW Executive Council and the conference of the states parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The side that is being asked about the substance has every right to receive an access to it so as to conduct its own analysis. We did this as soon as the rumors spread, by almost everyone in British leadership, that the substance was produced in the Russian Federation. We sent an official note asking for access to this substance so our experts could analyze it in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In the same note, we requested access to the facts linked with the investigation, considering that one of the victims, Julia Skripal, is a Russian national.
"We only received a vague answer to justified request that is based on the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In effect, it was rejected. So, instead of demanding that we respond to the British government’s ultimatum within 24 hours, it would be better for them to comply with their own commitments regarding international law, in particular the obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. As for manners, it should be remembered that the era of colonialism has long past."
Q: "We have still not heard your response to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement. It seems that Moscow is not taking the situation seriously. I would like to understand what needs to be done to avoid confrontation."
Sergey Lavrov: "I understand that you need to present information that is commensurate with the sentiment in London. I have stated what the UK needs to do before Russia answers its questions. We have not received the request that London is required to send in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons."…
Q: "Can you rule out Russia’s involvement in the Sergey Skripal case?"
Sergey Lavrov: "You’re a strange one. I said that we are members of the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as is your country, which, for some reason, neglects to use the expertise of those who know what obligations the United Kingdom has. If the procedures envisaged in the Convention are fulfilled, I assure you that the Russian Federation will fulfill its obligations and respond to the corresponding request in the time allocated to prepare a response.
"In turn, we are waiting for the United Kingdom to respond to our request, sent in accordance with this same Convention, to provide the substance in question, and to make the whole investigation open to us because it involves a Russian national.
"If I have not explained this clearly enough, we will certainly make a transcript of my answers to the first and additional questions, will send it to the BBC in the hope that this time around, you will not censor it before publishing or broadcasting it to your listeners and viewers."
Q: "Still, can you rule out Russia's involvement in the Skripal case?"
Sergey Lavrov: "We have already made a statement, which is that it is all nonsense. Maria Zakharova laid it out more politely. We have nothing to do with it. Everyone seems to be so brainwashed that our blogosphere is already full of comments that turn things upside down. I read with amazement on one blog that I had claimed it was unacceptable to compare the Alexander Litvinenko case and the Skripal case. I said exactly the opposite. They asked this question during my last trip to one of the African countries. I said, there was a similarity with the former case – when we began to cooperate with the investigators, it was classified, and we were told that we could not have all the information. Pretty much the same is happening this time around. We are given nothing in return for our request. So please, again, I beg you, please report all I am saying now, in detail, rather than limit your report to what I am imagining: 'Asked whether Russia is guilty, Mr. Lavrov fudged the issue.' Russia is not guilty. Russia is ready to cooperate in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, if the United Kingdom condescends to fulfill its international obligations under the same document."
(Mid.ru, March 13, 2018)
March 12 – UK PM May Updated The House of Commons: This Attempted Murder Was Not Just A Crime Against The Skripals, But It Was A Reckless Act Against The United Kingdom
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said to the House of Commons:
"… I am sure the whole House will want to once again pay tribute to the bravery and professionalism of our emergency services and armed forces in responding to this incident, as well as the doctors and nurses who are now treating those affected.
"Our thoughts, in particular, are with Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey who remains in a serious but stable condition. In responding to this incident, he exemplified the duty and courage that define our emergency services; and in which our whole nation takes the greatest pride…
"This incident has, of course, caused considerable concern across the community. Following the discovery of traces of nerve agent in Zizzi’s restaurant and The Mill pub, the Chief Medical Officer issued further precautionary advice. But as Public Health England have made clear, the risk to public health is low…
"That investigation continues and we must allow the police to continue with their work…
"It is now clear that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.
"This is part of a group of nerve agents known as ‘Novichok’.
"Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down; our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so; Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations; the Government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
"Mr. Speaker, there are therefore only two plausible explanations for what happened in Salisbury on the 4th of March.
"Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country.
"Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.
"This afternoon my Rt Hon Friend the Foreign Secretary has summoned the Russian Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and asked him to explain which of these two possibilities it is – and therefore to account for how this Russian-produced nerve agent could have been deployed in Salisbury against Mr. Skripal and his daughter.
"My Rt Hon Friend has stated to the Ambassador that the Russian Federation must immediately provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok program to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
"And he has requested the Russian Government’s response by the end of tomorrow.
"Mr. Speaker, this action has happened against a backdrop of a well-established pattern of Russian State aggression.
"Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea was the first time since the Second World War that one sovereign nation has forcibly taken territory from another in Europe.
"Russia has fomented conflict in the Donbas, repeatedly violated the national airspace of several European countries, and mounted a sustained campaign of cyber espionage and disruption. This has included meddling in elections, and hacking the Danish Ministry of Defense and the Bundestag, among many others.
"During his recent State of the Union address, President Putin showed video graphics of missile launches, flight trajectories and explosions, including the modeling of attacks on the United States with a series of warheads impacting in Florida.
"While the extra-judicial killing of terrorists and dissidents outside Russia were given legal sanction by the Russian Parliament in 2006.
"And of course Russia used radiological substances in its barbaric assault on Mr. Litvinenko. We saw promises to assist the investigation then, but they resulted in denial and obfuscation – and the stifling of due process and the rule of law.
"Mr. Speaker, following Mr. Litvinenko’s death we expelled Russian diplomats, suspended security co-operation, broke off bilateral plans on visas, froze the assets of the suspects and put them on international extradition lists. And these measures remain in place.
"Furthermore our commitment to collective defense and security through NATO remains as strong as ever in the face of Russian behavior.
"Indeed our armed forces have a leading role in NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence with British troops leading a multinational battlegroup in Estonia.
"We have led the way in securing tough sanctions against the Russian economy.
"And we have at all stages worked closely with our allies and we will continue to do so.
"We must now stand ready to take much more extensive measures.
"Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday we will consider in detail the response from the Russian State.
"Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom.
"And I will come back to this House and set out the full range of measures that we will take in response.
"Mr Speaker, this attempted murder using a weapons-grade nerve agent in a British town was not just a crime against the Skripals.
"It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk.
"And we will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil…"
March 12 – Russian Embassy To The BBC: Current Policy Of The UK Government Towards Russia Is A Dangerous Game Played With British Public Opinion
Russian Embassy Press secretary to the UK responded to BBC question:
Q: "Has your mission made any contact with the UK authorities over the wellbeing of Sergey and Julia Skripal?"
Embassy Press secretary: "Literally the next day after the first reports on the poisoning of Mr. Skripal and his daughter the Embassy officially requested the Foreign Office to provide information on their health situation and the investigation. This is important to us since his issue has become quite a negative factor for the relations between our countries due to the unfounded accusations against Russia advanced by the media. British officials don’t provide any additional information and don’t distance themselves from the media campaign. The investigation is being concluded in a non-transparent manner, whenever for the Russian side nor for the public. Quite naturally, this is a source of concern.
"The Foreign Office has informed us that the UK considers Mr. Skripal as a British citizen. Still, the British side has provided no detailed information regarding their health, thus confirming that nobody, including the British media, has obtained access to investigation files since 4 March when the incident occurred.
"We would like to stress once again that we are outraged by the anti-Russian media campaign, condoned by the Government, that influences the investigation and has a psychological effect on British residents. Our compatriots and British nationals of Russian origin are worried about their future in this country. UK-based Russian journalists are receiving threats.
"Current policy of the UK Government towards Russia is a very dangerous game played with the British public opinion, which not only sends the investigation upon an unhelpful political track but also bears the risk of more serious long-term consequences for our relations."
(Rusemb.org.uk, March 12, 2018)
Caption: "Who in London will be held responsible before the British people for groundlessly wrecking relations with Russia?" (Source: Twitter.com/RussianEmbassy, March 12, 2018)
March 9 –Russian FM Lavrov: 'It Is Again Propaganda And Stirring Up Hysteria'
During a press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said:
Q: "There are strong allegations in the UK that your government has been involved in the assassination attempt of Sergey Skripal and his daughter. How do you respond to these allegations?"
Sergey Lavrov: "We are accused not only of this, but of everything that our Western partners believe is wrong on this planet. As for your concrete question, we have not seen a single fact. We only watch TV reports where your pretentious colleagues with serious faces say that if Russia is guilty, it will receive a response it will remember forever. It is not serious. It is again propaganda and stirring up hysteria. If you are interested in cooperating in an investigation, be it the poisoning of British citizens, rumors about interference in the U.S. election campaign or any other issue, and if Russia’s assistance is really needed, we are ready to consider this possibility if we have relevant information. But for this to happen, you should not rush to the TV and make unfounded accusations, but ask for professional help using other channels, including law enforcement agencies.
"I watch television ‒ of course, you cannot escape it ‒ and I see that there are parallels with the death of Alexander Litvinenko, which also happened in the UK. I would like to remind you that Litvinenko’s death, for which Russia was also blamed, has not been investigated to the end, because the inquiry – it was called public but took place behind closed doors – was held in a very strange way. Numerous facts which were discovered during the investigation were never made public. We offered our services and cooperation because there was a series of questions for Russia, but the British justice did not deign and issued an unfounded verdict, which, I repeat, is not complete. They did not mention many facts connected with this tragedy. Therefore, I would advise anyone interested in this issue to follow the rules used in international society and to address the countries they want to receive information from using professional, not propaganda channels."
(Mid.ru, March 9, 2018)
March 7 – Russian MFA Spokesperson Zakharova: A Media Background Will Be Stirred Up And Then Everything Will Eventually Be Classified
During her weekly press briefing Russian MFA spokesperson Maria Zakharova said:
Q: "If Russia is found to have been involved in the alleged poisoning of Sergey Skripal, what will be your reaction? What can you say about this unfolding story?"
Maria Zakharova: "As you know, the Presidential Executive Office, specifically the Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, gave his assessment. I can repeat that as of today this information is absolutely relevant. We do not have information about what could have caused, as you rightly put it, this 'story.'
"At the same time, we draw your attention to the fact that what happened to Sergey Skripal was immediately used to further escalate the anti-Russia campaign in the western media space. Well before the situation gains any clarity, traditional fake stories are already doing the rounds. Moreover, it is apparent that someone is directing this campaign, statements by British officials have already been voiced. To be honest, it is hard to give any assessment other than that provocative fakes are being aimed at complicating relations between our nations.
"Proceeding from your view of the situation, you said it is a 'story.' There have been many stories like that. How did the story with Boris Berezovsky end? And the one with Alexander Perepelichny? Do you know? No, of course not. Do we know? Nobody has informed us, either via official channels, for example, that of the Foreign Ministry, or other channels. This 'story,' as you rightly said, will end similarly.
"First, a media background will be stirred up, absolutely ungrounded and unsubstantiated accusations will be voiced, and then everything will eventually be classified. And neither journalists, nor the public nor officials will know what really happened there. Will the same scenario be played out in this case? Look, the situation with both the Berezovsky and Perepelichny cases is identical. The same also happened before. This scenario is no different."
Q: "Did Sergey Skripal lose his Russian citizenship?"
Maria Zakharova: "We have information that he was not registered with the consular department of our Embassy in London. I have no other information in this regard."
Q: "Did you receive an official request to offer support in investigating this story?"
Maria Zakharova: "As of now, we have not received any official requests or proposals from British officials to conduct a joint investigation that might suggest any participation of the Russian side. A statement and comments about this were made yesterday."
(Mid.ru, March 7, 2017)
Caption: Presumption of innocence 2.0: No idea what happened, no idea why it happened, but Russians are to blame". (Source: Twitter.com/RussianEmbassy, March 7, 2018)
March 6 - UK Foreign Secretary Johnson To The House Of Commons: 'This Government Will Take Whatever Measures We Deem Necessary To Protect The Lives Of The People In This Country, Our Values And Our Freedoms'
On March 6, Boris Johnson said to the House Of Commons:
" … Let me immediately say that there is much speculation about the disturbing incident in Salisbury, where a 66-year-old man, Sergei Skripal, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were found unconscious outside The Maltings shopping centre on Sunday afternoon. Police, together with partner agencies, are now investigating.
"Hon. Members will note the echoes of the death of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. Although it would be wrong to prejudge the investigation, I can reassure the House that, should evidence emerge that implies state responsibility, Her Majesty’s Government will respond appropriately and robustly, although I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will appreciate that it would not be right for me to give further details of the investigation now, for fear of prejudicing the outcome.
"This House has profound differences with Russia, which I outlined in the clearest terms when I visited Moscow in December. By annexing Crimea in 2014, igniting the flames of conflict in eastern Ukraine and threatening western democracies, including by interfering in their elections, Russia has challenged the fundamental basis of international order.
"The United Kingdom, under successive Governments, has responded with strength and determination, first by taking unilateral measures after the death of Litvinenko, expelling four Russian diplomats in 2007 and suspending security co-operation between our respective agencies, and then by leading the EU’s response to the annexation of Crimea and the aggression in Ukraine by securing tough sanctions, co-ordinated with the United States and other allies, targeting Russian state-owned banks and defense companies, restricting the energy industry that serves as the central pillar of the Russian economy, and constraining the export of oil exploration and production equipment.
"Whenever those sanctions have come up for renewal, Britain has consistently argued for their extension, and we shall continue to do so until and unless the cause for them is removed. These measures have inflicted significant damage on the Russian economy. Indeed, they help to explain why it endured two years of recession in 2015 and 2016.
"As the House has heard repeatedly, the UK Government have been in the lead at the UN in holding the Russians to account for their support of the barbaric regime of Bashar al-Assad. The UK has been instrumental in supporting Montenegro’s accession to NATO and in helping that country to identify the perpetrators of the Russian-backed attempted coup. This country has exposed the Russian military as cyber-criminals in its attacks on Ukraine and elsewhere
"As I said, it is too early to speculate about the precise nature of the crime or attempted crime that took place in Salisbury on Sunday, but Members will have their suspicions. If those suspicions prove to be well founded, this Government will take whatever measures we deem necessary to protect the lives of the people in this country, our values and our freedoms. Though I am not now pointing fingers, because we cannot do so, I say to Governments around the world that no attempt to take innocent life on UK soil will go either unsanctioned or unpunished. It may be that this country will continue to pay a price for our continued principles in standing up to Russia, but I hope that the Government will have the support of Members on both sides of the House in continuing to do so. We must await the outcome of the investigation, but in the meantime I should like to express my deep gratitude to the emergency services for the professionalism of their response to the incident in Salisbury."
"[Talking after conservative MP Tom Tugendhat] I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who is indeed correct that Russia is engaged in a host of malign activities that stretch from the abuse and murder of journalists to the mysterious assassination of politicians. I am glad that he mentioned Mr. Nemtsov, as in December I was privileged to pay tribute to his memory at the site of his murder on a bridge in Moscow.
"It is clear that Russia is, I am afraid, in many respects now a malign and disruptive force, and the UK is in the lead across the world in trying to counteract that activity. I must say to the House that that is sometimes difficult, given the strong economic pressures that are exerted by Russia’s hydrocarbons on other European economies, and we sometimes have difficulty in trying to get our points across, but we do get our points across. There has been no wavering on the sanctions regimes that has been imposed by European countries, and nor indeed will there be such wavering as long as the UK has a say in this.
"… We must be very careful in what we say because it is too early to prejudge the investigation, but if the suspicions on both sides of the House about the events in Salisbury prove to be well founded, we may well be forced to look again at our sanctions regime and at other measures that we may seek to put in place."
(Hansard.parliament.uk, March 6, 2018)
March 6 – Russian Embassy Responds To UK Foreign Secretary Johnson: We Regret That He Chose To Threaten Russia With Retribution
Russian Embassy’s Press Officer commented on the statement by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson concerning the case Sergei Skripal:
"We are impressed by the statement of the Foreign Secretary in Parliament today. The Foreign Secretary spoke in such a manner as if the investigation was already over and Russia was found responsible for what had happened in Salisbury.
"We regret that instead of a proper official clarification on the issue the Foreign Secretary chose to threaten Russia with retribution. Looks like the script of yet another anti-Russian campaign has been already written."
(Rusemb.org.uk, March 6, 2018)
March 6- Russian Embassy In The UK Comments On Skripal's Poisoning: The Media Are Launching A New Phase Of The Anti-Russian Campaign In Britain
Q.: "How would you comment the situation with the alleged poisoning of MI6 agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury?"
Russian Embassy’s Press Officer: "The situation regarding the hospitalization of Sergey Skripal and another person on 4 March, as described by the British media, causes serious concern.
"As of today, the police or other British authorities have not provided the Embassy with any official information regarding this incident. The Foreign Office has not given any notifications either.
"However, the media are swiftly launching a new phase of the anti-Russian campaign ongoing in the UK. Readers are offered various speculations which ultimately lead to a vilification of Russia. Although UK law enforcement agencies have not given any substantive comments on this incident, media reports create an impression of a planned operation by the Russian special services, which is completely untrue.
"We believe that the British authorities and law enforcement bodies should step in immediately and inform the Embassy and the British society about the actual circumstances of this incident, so as to end the demonization of Russia. With this in mind, the Embassy has turned to the Foreign Office for clarifications."
(Rusemb.org.uk, March 6, 2018)
 Tass.com, March 12, 2018.
 Themoscowtimes.com, March 15, 2018.
 Tass.com, March 12, 2018.
 Twitter.com/RussianEmbassy, March 9, 2018.
 Gov.uk, March 14, 2018.
 Dailymail.co.uk, March 13, 2018.
 Echo.msk.ru, March 9, 2018.
 Facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001589654713, March 10, 2018.