by WorldTribune Staff, March 29, 2018
Russia hinted that British intelligence may have been behind the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter and pressed the UK to produce evidence of Moscow’s involvement.
“An analysis of all the circumstances…leads us to think of the possible involvement of the British intelligence services,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on March 28.
“If convincing evidence to the contrary is not presented to the Russian side, we will consider that we are dealing with an attempt on the lives of our fellow citizens as the result of a massive political provocation.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said there is “no alternative conclusion, other than that the Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder” of Sergei and Yulia Skripal “and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury.”
The Russian ministry’s statement came as more than 150 Russian diplomats in 28 countries have been expelled in response to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
Britain hailed the expulsions as a “turning point.” Russia attributed the expulsions to “colossal” pressure by the United States and vowed to respond.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that “all options are on the table. We should analyze the entire situation in totality, assess the degree of hostility demonstrated by the policies of Washington and London,” and choose an appropriate response.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the Salisbury incident is part of a pattern seen in Russia’s actions, starting in Ukraine in 2014, where he said Moscow sent armed men without insignias into Crimea and has provided fighters and weapons under cover to Ukrainian separatists, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on March 28.
“They take the insignia off soldiers’ uniforms and they go into Crimea. They say they have nothing to do with what’s going on with the separatists in eastern Ukraine,” Mattis said.
“I’m not sure how they can say that with a straight face,” he said, but “they’re doing things that they believe are deniable.”
“And so they’re trying to break the unity of the Western alliance, NATO,” he said, by promoting doubt and disputes over who is responsible.