Russian diplomats on Tuesday dismissed British Prime Minister Theresa May’s demand for an explanation about the poisoning of a former spy in southern England.
“Bearing in mind what the president [of Russia Vladimir Putin] said [in his State-of-the-Nation Address], no one can appear in his or her country’s parliament to say ‘I give Russia 24 hours,’” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Tuesday, according to state-run media.
“One should not threaten a nuclear power,” she said.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned on March 4 in England and are currently hospitalized. May told the Parliament Monday that the government has decided it is “highly likely” that Russia was responsible.
Zakharova’s rejoinder is an apparent reference to the hypersonic missiles that Putin unveiled during his address, which he said would make Russia’s nuclear weapons “invincible” from any ballistic missile defense shield. Her dismissive comment comes as British diplomats are accusing Russia of violating the international Chemical Weapons Convention.
“The stark conclusion is that it is highly likely that Russia, a fellow State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention and fellow member of this Executive Council, is implicated in chemical weapons use, whether by failure to control its own materials or by design,” Peter Wilson, the U.K. ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, echoed on Tuesday. “And in whichever scenario, Russia has failed, for many years, to declare chemical weapons development programs dating from the 1970s.”
Wilson’s Russian counterpart called that a “vicious” continuation of a “dirty information war being waged on Russia.” But he used the allegation to argue that Russia should not have to reply on May’s timeline, as the controversy should instead be overseen by OPCW processes.
“If London does have serious reasons to suspect Russia of violating the CWC … we suggest that Britain immediately avail itself of the procedures provided for [by international law],” Alexander Shulgin, the Russian ambassador to the OPCW, said Tuesday. “We would also like to emphasize that such clarifications under the [Chemical Weapons] 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.”
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