Britain and Russia faced off at a UN meeting today as the two country’s ambassadors traded ill-tempered accusations of ‘anti-Russian hysteria’ and ‘playing dice with lives’.
Britain accused Russia of ‘working in a parallel universe where normal rules of international law are inverted’ in an excoriating statement, while Russia said the West was operating in a ‘post-truth world’, calling the affair a ‘theatre of the absurd’.
The UK’s representative to the UN Karen Pierce blasted the Russians over the novichok attack on Sergei Skripal, which hospitalised him and four others and killed mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess.
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The UK’s representative to the UN Karen Pierce hit out at Russia’s actions in Salisbury during a meeting of the UN’s Security Council today
Russian representative Vasily Nebenzya branded Britain’s case ‘unfounded and mendacious’
Ms Pierce said of Russia: ‘They tried to murder the Skripals, they played dice with the lives of the people of Salisbury, they live in a parallel universe where the normal rules of international affairs are inverted.’
She said Britain’s quarrel was not with the people of Russia but with the country’s government.
She added: ‘We have fought alongside Russian troops in the second world war – but we will respond robustly when our security is threatened.’
Russian representative Vasily Nebenzya branded Britain’s case ‘unfounded and mendacious’.
The ambassador to the UN said there are ‘inconsistencies’ which are ‘off the charts’ in evidence relating to the Salisbury novichok poisoning.
Mr Nebenzya questioned why Russia would want to carry out the attack in such a ‘strange, sophisticated way’, and accused Downing Street of ‘Russophobia’.
‘The only one who has won, who has gained from this is the Nina Ricci company, which has received a lot of advertising,’ he said.
Adding: ‘London needs this story for just one purpose – to unleash a disgusting anti-Russian hysteria and to involve other countries in this hysteria.’
The United States Ambassador Nikki Haley reiterated her ‘solidarity’ with the UK and Prime Minister Theresa May. Speaking immediately after Russia’s representative, she said people should be ‘chilled to the bone with the findings of this investigation’
The United States Ambassador Nikki Haley reiterated her ‘solidarity’ with the UK and Prime Minister Theresa May.
Speaking immediately after Russia’s representative, she said people should be ‘chilled to the bone with the findings of this investigation’.
Ms Pierce spoke after US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau issued a joint statement with Mrs May agreeing with the British assessment that the operation was ‘almost certainly approved at a senior government level’ in Moscow.
Police and prosecutors announced yesterday that they had enough evidence to charge the men, named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, over the poisoning in March.
The Prime Minister then told MPs it was carried out by two Russian spies and sanctioned at a ‘senior level’ by Vladimir Putin‘s regime.
She told the Commons investigations have concluded that the two suspects are members of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, and it was not a ‘rogue operation’.
A special meeting of the UN security council was held today following a day of revelations about the novichok poisoning in Salisbury yesterday
It comes the day after accused two Russian agents, travelling under the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, of carrying out the attack on double agent Sergei Skripal
Mrs May did not explicitly blame the Kremlin for authorising the attempted assassination, although senior Conservatives directly accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of approving the operation.
Commons Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat said there was ‘no doubt it was state ordered and President Putin bears responsibility for a war-like act’.
The charge d’affaires at Russia’s London embassy was summoned to the Foreign Office for a dressing-down by an official following Mrs May’s statement.
The PM told MPs the UK would push for new sanctions against Russians responsible for cyber attacks, additional listings under the existing regime and promised to work with intelligence allies to ‘counter the threat posed by the GRU’.
Former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left critically ill after being exposed to the military grade nerve agent novichok in March.
The alleged perpetrators were identified in a dramatic joint police and Crown Prosecution Service press conference.
Theresa May say the chemical weapons attack would have been ordered
Detectives believe it is likely the pair, thought to be aged around 40, travelled under aliases and that Petrov and Boshirov are not their real names.
Prosecutors deem it futile to apply to Russia for the extradition of the two men, but a European Arrest Warrant has been obtained and the authorities are also seeking the assistance of Interpol.
Detectives believe the front door of Mr Skripal’s Salisbury home was contaminated with novichok on Sunday March 4.
Mr Skripal, 67, and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury city centre the same day and spent weeks critically ill in hospital.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu also confirmed officers have now linked the attack on the Skripals to events in nearby Amesbury four months later.
Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with novichok in Salisbury in attack which the UK has blamed on Russia’s GRU intelligence agency
Mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess died and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill after they came into contact with novichok. It is thought they found a bottle used to store the chemical
In the second incident, Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, were exposed to the same nerve agent used in Salisbury.
Ms Sturgess died in hospital in July, just over a week after the pair fell ill.
In a statement, the Russian Embassy in the UK accused the British authorities of being unwilling to engage with them and called on the Government to ‘give up politicised public accusations’.
These are the two Russian spies being sought over the novichok poisoning in Salisbury in March. Police say it is unlikely Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are their real names, as they are thought to have many aliases
Novichok was smeared on the front door handle of Mr Skripal’s Salisbury home