UK aggressive campaign against Russia blamed for low level ties: Ambassador
The Russian ambassador to Britain has accused London of waging an “aggressive campaign” against Moscow over the Salisbury chemical attack allegations, which have plunged the relations to a “very low level.”
Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko denounced “aggressive anti-Russian campaign” in the UK, which has prevented Moscow from appointing new diplomats to the country.
London expelled 23 Russian diplomats in March after accusing Moscow of masterminding a nerve agent attack against Russia’s former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on the British soil in March.
Russia denies any involvement in the attack, but “Britain refuses to issue visas to our diplomats,” to replace those who were expelled, Yakovenko said.
“The reason for that lies in an aggressive anti-Russian campaign launched by the current Tory Government and supported by British media,” he said during a press conference at the embassy in London.
“The Conservative Government has been acting in a completely unconstructive way by breaching multiple bilateral and international agreements,” he said. “The bilateral high-level political dialogue is currently frozen. That was not our initiative. That was the initiative of the British Government.”
Yakovenko also denied allegations against the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU, over hacking attempts at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague earlier this month.
The Netherlands expelled four Russian military intelligence officers over accusations of carrying out a cyber attack on the headquarters.
“They came to the Netherlands with a routine mission to the embassy to support technically the embassy and to check the communications line of the embassy for security reasons,” Yakovenko explained.
Tensions between Britain and Russia keep escalating to the extent that their fighter jets, had for several times, come to a “dangerous” close encounter over Black Sea. The latest occurred last month when Britain along with France separately scrambled fighter jets to intercept two Russian long-range bombers.
Russia has constantly warned Britain over the moves, calling them “provocative.”