Poisoned spy Daughter says she’s getting stronger daily

“The so-called Skripal case has been used as a fictitious, orchestrated pretext for the unfounded massive expulsions of Russian diplomats not only from the U.S. and Britain but also from a number of other countries who simply had their arms twisted,” Lavrov said in Moscow. “We have never seen such an open mockery of the international law, diplomatic ethics and elementary decorum.”

As part of the diplomatic row, Russia last week ordered 60 U.S. diplomats to leave the country by Thursday in retaliation for Washington’s expulsion of the same number of Russians. Three buses believed to be carrying expelled American diplomats left the U.S. Embassy in Moscow early Thursday after loading their luggage on trucks. Some toted pet carriers.

Lavrov noted that Russia will respond in kind to any further hostile moves, but added that “we also want to establish the truth.” He sarcastically likened the British accusations to the queen from Alice in Wonderland urging “sentence first — verdict afterward.”

On Wednesday, Russia called a meeting of the international chemical weapons watchdog to demand a joint investigation with Britain into the poisoning — a demand that London has rejected. The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons voted against the Russian proposal, but Moscow said the number of countries that abstained from the vote suggested many have doubts about Britain’s accusations.

“It’s unacceptable to make unfounded accusations instead of conducting a fair investigation and providing concrete facts,” Lavrov said. “Yesterday’s debate in The Hague showed that self-respecting adults don’t believe in fairy tales.”

Asked if Russia would accept the OPCW’s conclusions, Lavrov said Moscow must be part of the inquiry and see the evidence. “We can’t give an advance approval to results of the investigation, in which we aren’t taking part and which is kept secret,” he said. “We would accept the results of any investigation that would be fair, not the one organized in a fraudulent way.”

Moscow has called a meeting of the U.N. Security Council for later Thursday to press its case. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Wednesday “the purpose of Russia’s ludicrous proposal at The Hague was clear — to undermine the independent, impartial work of the international chemical weapons watchdog.”

The head of Britain’s defense research facility, the Porton Down laboratory, acknowledged Tuesday it has not been able to pinpoint the precise source of the nerve agent. Gary Aitkenhead said scientists there identified the substance used on the Skripals as a Soviet-developed nerve agent known as Novichok. But he added “it’s not our job to say where that was actually manufactured.”

Russia said that it never produced Novichok and completed the destruction of its chemical arsenals under international control last year. Lavrov noted that Aitkenhead’s statement indicated Porton Down had samples of Novichok to use it as a marker to determine the type of the nerve agent used in the attack. He added that Britain has failed to acknowledge yet that it possesses Novichok.

Russian officials mocked British claims that Moscow wanted to punish Skripal, a Russian military intelligence officer who was convicted of spying for Britain before being released from prison in a 2010 swap. The Russian ambassador to London, Alexander Yakovenko, said Moscow has no grudge against Skripal and would welcome him if he wants to return home.


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