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Spy poisoning row: Russia says UK forcing ‘allies to take confrontational steps’

At a summit in Brussels on Thursday, EU leaders united behind British Prime Minister Theresa May in blaming Russia for the nerve agent attack in England, and agreed to recall their ambassador to Moscow for consultations.

world Updated: Mar 23, 2018 17:32 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Moscow
Russia,Britain,Russian Spy Poisoning
Sergei Skripal, a former colonel of Russia's GRU military intelligence service, looks on inside the defendants' cage as he attends a hearing at the Moscow military district court, Russia August 9, 2006. (Reuters File Photo)

Russia on Friday slammed Britain for encouraging European Union member states to support London over a spy poisoning row after they agreed to recall the bloc’s envoy from Moscow for consultations.

In London they “are feverishly trying to force allies to take confrontational steps,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on a visit to Hanoi, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

He said London’s focus was now on making “the crisis with Russia as deep as possible” following the attempted murder of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Britain.

At a summit in Brussels on Thursday, EU leaders united behind British Prime Minister Theresa May in blaming Russia for the nerve agent attack in England, and agreed to recall their ambassador to Moscow for consultations.

Some EU states are now considering following Britain’s lead in expelling Russian diplomats, with Lithuania and France among those indicating a willingness to take action.

Russia’s top diplomat insisted that Britain has so far failed to provide any firm evidence that would link Moscow to the March 4 attack.

“We still do not see any facts,” Lavrov was quoted as saying.

“The absence of which makes one think that all of this is a provocation, the investigation has not even been finished yet.” At the same time Lavrov praised US President Donald Trump for seeking to mend fences with Russia.

“In spite of everything, President Trump’s policies are aimed at normalising ties with Russia and establishing cooperation in the interests of all,” Lavrov said.

Earlier this week Trump appeared to have ignored the poisoning row when he called to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election on Sunday and proposed a summit in the “not-too-distant future”.

But Trump has also agreed with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron “on the need to take action to hold Russia accountable” for the attack.

First Published: Mar 23, 2018 15:38 IST