19 February 2020

Russia warns Israel of ‘anti-Russian hysteria’ over ex-spy’s poisoning

KONFRONTASI-Russia has warned the Israeli regime not to be drawn into “a renewed anti-Russian hysteria” after Tel Aviv condemned the poisoning of a former double agent in the UK that London and its Western allies have blamed on Moscow.

The Russian embassy in the occupied Palestinian territories issued the warning on Friday, saying the British government has undertaken attempts, backed by some other foreign nations and a number of media outlets, “to draw Israel into [a] political and propagandistic campaign, which was unleashed by London under the false pretext of Russia’s alleged involvement” in the poisoning incident of the ex-spy.

On March 7, British authorities announced that former double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, had been hospitalized after they had been found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in the city of Salisbury. They were reportedly being exposed to a nerve agent.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday that it was “highly likely” that Moscow was behind the poisoning, giving the Kremlin until the end of Tuesday to answer the accusations. 

She further said that a chemical weapon purportedly developed under a clandestine Soviet program, dubbed Novichok, had been used in the poisoning of the agent and his daughter, demanding that Moscow provide details of the so-called program. May further warned that otherwise London would consider the poisoning an attack directed by the Russian government.

Two days later, May announced a set of punitive measures against Russia amid worsening relations between London and Moscow. She also told parliament that London had ordered the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats believed to be involved in espionage-related activities.

Elsewhere in the Friday statement, the Russian embassy said “such actions constitute an unprecedented and flagrant provocation that undermines foundations of normal dialogue between” Moscow and Tel Aviv, and that Israel's condemnation of the incident seriously challenges “the international rules-based system.”

The statement came after the Israeli foreign ministry on Thursday condemned “the event that occurred in Great Britain” without mentioning Russia by name.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said London’s move in implicating Moscow in the poisoning incident was made in an attempt to “deflect attention” away from difficult negotiations between London and the European Union over Brexit.

The standoff further complicated when British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of giving a personal order to carry out a nerve agent attack against Skripal.

The Kremlin, in a strongly-worded response, described Jonson’s allegation against the Russian leader as “shocking and unforgivable”, saying “Russia has nothing to do with this affair.”

Skripal was found guilty by a Russian tribunal of selling classified information to the UK’s spy agency MI6 and was imprisoned in Russia in 2006. He was exchanged in a spy swap in 2010.

Moscow has strongly denied any involvement, and some chemical experts have  said the nerve agent may have been stolen in the aftermath of the collapse of the former Soviet Union, when security at chemical sites was allegedly lax.[mr/ptv]



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