Russia’s Foreign Minister has hit out at the UK saying they used the EU to facilitate sanctions against Russia in the wake of the Novichok scandal.
Sergey Lavrov’s criticism came hours after the EU unveiled a sanctions regime that could target people and entities worldwide who create or deploy chemical weapons.
“It's very funny how, after Salisbury, British representatives have been running around Europe, calling on other EU countries to support sanctions,” Lavrov told Euronews’ Moscow correspondent Galina Polonskaya in an exclusive interview.
“They managed to convince not all, but many, to expel our diplomats after Salisbury. Now they are coming up with some new, systemic sanctions which will be mandatory for all the EU against any violators of the ban on chemical weapons."
“So a country, which is leaving the European Union, is frantically trying to influence EU policy towards Russia.”
Around 18 countries in the EU expelled dozens of Russian diplomats in March after former Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent, Novichok, in Salisbury, southern England.
Following toxicology tests and the identification of two Russian suspects, found to be secret agents, the UK has held Moscow “ultimately” responsible for the attack, which led to the death of a British national when the discarded poison was found in a nearby park.
Moscow denies the allegations.
"Where is Yulia Skripal? Where is Sergey Skripal?" said Lavrov. "If all we have been given is the (dead) body of a cat, of a hamster and, I am sorry, a poor homeless woman, some kind of a perfume bottle — all of this looks grotesque."
Lavrov also warned against manoeuvres to have Russia expelled from the Council of Europe (CoE).
Earlier in October, CoE secretary Thorbjorn Jagland threatened to have them kicked out if they didn’t resume payments into its budget. Russia cut funding to the international body after their delegation was stripped of voting rights in the wake of the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
“Those who have destroyed this space with illegitimate actions which remove rights from the Russian delegation — I am convinced they know exactly what are they doing.
“If they want to expel Russia from the Council of Europe - we will not give them the pleasure, we will leave it ourselves.”