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memri
July 9, 2018 No.
7559

Russia-UK Relations – Russia's Reactions To The Amesbury Incident; Russian Embassy To The UK: The Best Thing About Paranoia Is That Your Tantrums Don't Need A Logical Explanation

Four months after the Skripal case, a new incident took place in the United Kingdom. On June 29, Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner, Charlie Rowley, 45, were thought to have handled a "contaminated item" in Salisbury. The following morning, on June 30, the couple fell ill at a house in nearby Amesbury.

It was soon discovered out that Sturgess and Rowley had been contaminated with the Novichok agent. The UK Security Minister, Ben Wallace, immediately accused Russia of responsibility for the Amesbury incident. Wallace said: "Based on the evidence we had at the time of the Skripal attack, the knowledge they [Russia] had developed Novichok, they had explored assassination programs in the past, they had motive, form and stated policy, we would still assert to a very high assurance that the Russian state was behind the original attack."

He then added: "The working assumption would be these are victims of the consequences of the previous attack or something else but not that they were directly targeted. That could change."[1]

On July 8, Dawn Sturgess died at Salisbury District Hospital. Charlie Rowley remains in critical conditions.

Below are official Russian reactions to the Amesbury incident:


Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley (Source: Facebook)

FM Spokesperson Zakharova: We Could Say That Hardly Four Months Elapsed Before The British Detective Thriller 'The Mystery Of Salisbury' Had A Sequel'


(Source: Mid.ru)

"We have received dozens, if not hundreds, of requests for comment on the chemical incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury. Media reported two UK residents had been taken to a Salisbury hospital in critical condition from the nearby town of Amesbury after being poisoned with an unidentified substance. These were initial reports. The incident is notable because it occurred near Salisbury, where, according to British media, an assassination attempt on two Russian citizens occurred four months ago. Let me remind you that the Porton Down Laboratory is also located there.

"Statements by the UK police and doctors carried by the media claim possible poisoning with a 'toxin' and note the 'similarity' of the symptoms with those experienced by the Skripals. Samples of the substance are reported to have been delivered for analysis to the secret laboratory in Porton Down. As early as last night of July 4, Neil Basu, Assistant Commissioner of the Counter Terrorism Command within London's Metropolitan Police Service, declared citing the Porton Down Laboratory that 'both the victims were poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent.'

"What can be said in this regard? After the hell visited upon Russia by official London, after the international hate campaign launched by the UK Government against our country and our people in the past months, there is much which could be said today.

"We could say that hardly four months elapsed before the British detective thriller 'The Mystery of Salisbury' had a sequel. The second installment features the same main character, Novichok. But I am not going to get into that.

"We could remind you that hardly had the fanfares of the military parade died down on Armed Forces Day, where Prime Minister Theresa May announced the next parade would be held in Salisbury, stressing that the professionalism and bravery demonstrated in the face of the attack are among the main reasons why it will be held in Salisbury, where another poisoning occurred a few months later, but I am not going to get into that.

"We could ask the British side to update us on the timing of Theresa May and her team's next performance in parliament, but I am not going to do that either.

"We could wonder if Porton Down backtracks on its evidence in the new case. Do you remember that a couple of months ago Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson citing Porton Down claimed that the Novichok used to poison the Skripals had been made in the Russian Federation? Meanwhile, the laboratory later disavowed the statements by the UK Foreign Secretary. The Foreign Office had to delete its official statements from social media. The unfolding situation is similar. As we understand it, Porton Down has not made a statement, yet it is being officially and actively cited (their official site has as its main a more down-to-earth topic – the study of pant washing technique). We could ask whether Porton Down would again disclaim the statements attributed to it. But I am not going to do that either.

"We could point to Neil Basu stressing the 'complete lack of evidence' that either of the victims visited the site of the Skripals' poisoning. He thus indicated that the British citizens were not poisoned while on an occasional stroll in Salisbury, that the two incidents are not related. And at the same time, on July 5, Minister of State for Security at the Home Office Ben Wallace claimed that Russia's help was crucial to investigate the new incident, that we can 'fill in some of the significant gaps' in London's official investigation of the new incident and to keep the people safe. But I will not do that.

"We could pick at the Minister's words about the 'gaps' which indeed abound. From the very start of the Skripal case Russia offered a number of times to conduct a joint investigation of the incident with the British authorities. However, it is Theresa May's Government, of which Ben Wallace is a member, that has persistently refused any help, incessantly repeating the mantra alleging 'Russia's involvement.' But I will not do that today either.

"We could hypothesize that the British authorities have lost control of chemical agents or recall how London demanded that Russia admit to losing control of them. But I will not do that today either.

"We could list dozens of versions that were immediately reported by the British press even though Scotland Yard had cautioned against early guesswork and speculation on the topic. We could recall how the British Government accused the Russian Federation of propaganda by quoting Russian media. But I will not do that today.

"We could ask Theresa May's Government a question which interests everyone in the world now – will the OPCW handle the investigation of the new incident? And I will not do that today either.

"We could wish a pleasant holiday to Britain's Defense Secretary who makes such forceful statements. Do you remember how he recommended that Russia “go away and shut up?” We could ask him now similarly to come and say why this is still happening. But I will not do that either.

"We could quote hundreds of mocking comments on British social media claiming that four months later it appears anyone in the UK can come by Novichok nowadays. I also won't do that.

"Today we could have said many things. We could have pointed out that, as if ordered to, several British media outlets have started spreading news that one of the poisoning victims had allegedly found a syringe with what remained of the Novichok, which I would like to remind you, is highly volatile according to experts. But I won't.

"We could have asked why NATO is silent. What does [NATO Secretary-General] Mr. Stoltenberg have to say on all this? But we won't.

We could have pointed out that another poisoning has taken place in an area under tight police control, where every inch has been examined, where millions of pounds, as we have been told officially, have been spent on decontamination and special security measures. It is the same place where Prince Charles and his wife came just a few days before the poisoning to promote tourism that has suffered after the Skripal incident. But I will not be talking about this either in my official capacity today.

"I will not cover any of these points. Today, nonetheless, there will be official statements on the subject.

"1. After four months, the so-called Skripal case remains thoroughly murky. The refusal of the UK to cooperate with the Russian Federation to hold a joint investigation, keeping Russian diplomats from having access to our citizens in violation of all diplomatic and consular conventions, and the endless attempts to manipulate the OPCW undermine trust in official London.

"2. The victims have our sincere sympathy, and we wish a speedy recovery to all four of them, two being Russian nationals.

"3. We call on British law enforcement to avoid being manipulated by dirty political games that certain quarters in London seem intent on playing and to finally cooperate with their Russian colleagues in a joint investigation, not least because Russian nationals have been affected as well.

"I am authorized to state that Russian law enforcement stand ready to work together. I would like to say that we have been informing the British of this several times a month through diplomatic channels.

"Today we were shocked to see British officials say they were awaiting Russia's response. Maybe in the UK, ordinary people and the media have not been apprised of the fact that Russia has used its diplomatic channels to make dozens of proposals to London to start joint work.

"In the name of security on our continent, we call on the May Cabinet to stop the intrigues and games with chemical agents, stop blocking efforts to conduct a joint investigation into what has happened in the UK to Russian nationals.

"I am certain that the representatives of the May Cabinet have ahead of them a long period of apologies to Russia and the international community for all that that Government has done. But, as is British custom, it will happen later. Now it is important to launch a comprehensive investigation."

(Mid.ru, July 5, 2018)

Russian Embassy To The UK: The British Investigation Remains Totally Non-Transparent

Commenting on the Amesbury incident, the Russian Embassy to the UK stated:

"All allegations of Russia's involvement in the incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury are merely speculative and are not based on objective data of the investigation. As for the cooperation and information sharing, Russia has from the very outset proposed a joint investigation of the attempted murder of two Russian nationals. The proposal remains on the table.

"Unfortunately, the British investigation remains totally non-transparent. Our numerous questions on this matter remain unanswered. The UK authorities avoid any contact with the Russian side on this, or any other issues of concern. Moreover, London continues to blatantly violate its international obligations by refusing consular access to the Russian citizens, who remain isolated and are highly likely under duress by secrets service.

"The British side has not contacted us over the Amesbury incident either. We cannot judge if the sample analysis was correct, or if any parallels with the Salisbury poisoning are well founded. It is regrettable that UK officials try to link a second poisoning with Russia without having produced any credible results of the investigation of the first one. Instead of genuine cooperation London is doing everything possible to muddy the waters, to confuse and frighten its own citizens. One can only guess what the reasons behind such a line of behavior are."

(Rusemb.org.uk, July 5, 2018)

Russian Embassy To The UK:

The Russian Embassy to the UK answered a question on UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid's accusation that Russia was conducting a disinformation campaign on the Novichok poisoning.

Q: "Home Secretary Sajid Javid has stated in Parliament that the Russian media are already producing multiple explanations of the incident in Amesbury and that a new disinformation campaign should be expected from the Kremlin. How could you comment on this?"

Russian Embassy to the UK: "It is not the first time that British officials are speculating on 'disinformation' and 'numerous versions' produced by the Russian 'pro-government media' regarding the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury and now of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley in Amesbury. The Foreign Office has even provided us with the list of 28 'official Russian versions' of the Salisbury incident, among which, for example, they cited the following: 'the UK poisoned Ivan the Terrible' and 'the operation in Eastern Ghouta is aimed at freeing civilians from terrorists'.

"In fact, the British side is well aware that Russia does not and cannot have any 'official version', the simple reason being that Russia has been denied access to investigation materials, samples of the chemical substance, as well as to the two Russian citizens themselves. The UK has rejected our proposal for cooperation under the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, is not responding to our requests for legal assistance in the context of the criminal case opened in Russia, is ignoring our numerous questions on the incident, and is violating its obligations under Consular Conventions. The investigation is conducted in a non-transparent manner, with no clear information provided to either the British public or Britain's foreign allies. The serious allegations against Russia are still based solely on speculation and artificial theories.

"In these conditions amounting to an information blockade, it is not surprising that Russian media and experts, struggling to understand what happened, are operating various versions. The best way to put an end to those speculations is to lift the secrecy of the investigation and to respond to the Russian proposal to work together to discover the truth."

(Rusemb.org.uk, July 5, 2018)

Russian Embassy To The UK Tweets:

The Russian Embassy to the UK tweeted: "UK reaction to Amesbury incident puzzling. Russia proposed a joint investigation into Salisbury from the very outset, proposal remains valid. Instead of cooperating, London prefers to muddy the waters, confuse and intimidate its own citizens."

(Twitter.com/russianembassy, July 5, 2018)

(Source: Twitter.com/russianembassy)

Commenting on an article, titled "Spies on Alert over 'Serious' Threat Of Russian Attack", the Russian Embassy also tweeted: "The best thing about paranoia is that you don't need to have a logical explanation for your tantrums."

(Twitter.com/russianembassy, July 6, 2018)


(Source: Twitter.com/russianembassy)

Russian Embassy To The Netherlands: "How Dumb They Think Russia Is To Use the So-Called Novichok?"

Commenting on the Amesbury incident, the Russian Embassy to the Netherlands wrote in his Twitter account:

"How dumb they think Russia is to use 'again' so-called 'Novichok' in the middle of the FIFA World Cup and after the special session of the CSP (convened by the way by the UK) that gave the #OPCW [the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] attribution functions. The show must go on?"

(Twitter.com/rusembassynl, July 4, 2018)


(Source: Twitter.com/rusembassynl)

 

 

[1] Theguardian.com, July 5, 2018.