Russia's Ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, says that London's reluctance to share information on the March 4 poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal has led Moscow to suggest that London authorities actually perpetrated the crime.
“We have very serious suspicion that this provocation was done by British intelligence,” Yakovenko told Russia's NTV channel - adding however that Moscow had no direct proof, but that the UK's behavior constitutes strong circumstantial evidence in support of their theory.
Yakovenko also suggested that London had gained several benefits from the poisoning - both short and long-term, in that Theresa May's government is capitalizing on the event in order to boost support at home, while burying headlines over its failures to negotiate better Brexit terms. The long-term benefit, according to Yakovenko, is that London is able to elevate itself into a primary position in the ongoing confrontation between the West and Russia.
“The Britons are claiming a leading role in the so-called containment of Russia. To win support from the people and the parliament for this containment of Russia, a serious provocation was required. And the Britons may have done a really savage one to get this support" -Alexander Yakovenko
Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in Salisbury using what the UK says was a "military grade" nerve agent developed by Russia from the "Novichok" family of toxins - however Russia's representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told state-run television in mid-March that the U.S. and U.K. developed the military-grade nerve agent used in the attack.
"There has never been a ‘Novichok’ research project conducted in Russia," Shulgin told the Rossia-1 television station, as the The Moscow Times first reported. "But in the West, some countries carried out such research, which they called 'Novichok,' for some reason.”
According to military experts at the British Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, the substance used in the attack is part of the "Novichoks" family of nerve agents. This roughly translates into "newcomer" in Russian.
Speaking at the 87th session of the OPCW Friday, Shulgin suggested the “unfounded” accusations from the West should be redirected at themselves. “[It] may very well be that the substance used [in Skripal’s poisoning] may have come from the stocks” of the U.S. and U.K. -Newsweek
“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," Shulgin said. "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."
Yakovenko also notes that the British authorities have insisted on withholding information from the public regarding the deaths of high-profile people with Russian ties, such as former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko, Georgian tycoon-turned-fugitive Badri Patarkatsishvili, Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky, and Russian whistleblower Aleksandr Perepilichny.
Following the Skripal poisoning, the UK and several of its allies responded by expelling Russian diplomats - with the Trump administration kicking 60 Russians out of the country, and the UK expelling 23. Russia returned "fire" with the expulsion of several foreign diplomats, and a demand that Britain scale back its diplomatic mission in Russia - affecting over 50 jobs.
The UK still hasn't explained why out of the myriad of ways to kill a human being, Russia would use Novichok - certainly knowing it would directly implicate them in Skripal's death.