Embassy comment on the second anniversary of the Salisbury incident

Today marks two years since Russian nationals Sergei and Yulia Skripal were involved in an incident in Salisbury. Back in March 2018, the British government was quick in laying the blame on Russia. Huge damage was done to Russian-British political relations. However, both we and the public are yet to see convincing evidence to support the official version of what happened. Instead, the British narrative is full of discrepancies and raises a great deal of specific questions that remain unanswered.

The UK has refused to cooperate with Russia within the existing legal framework. The strategy chosen is based on occasional stove-piping of unconvincing circumstantial evidence and unsubstantial facts, aimed at supporting the political accusations of Russia. We foresee that the same thing will happen with the inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess, a procedure which is by definition non-adversarial and is not intended to allocate anyone’s responsibility.

The UK has failed to deliver on its obligation to ensure consular access to the Russian nationals. Sergei and Yulia Skripal remain isolated. The allegations on their unwillingness to communicate with Russian representatives are unsubstantiated.

Russia will continue efforts aimed at establishing the truth. Today, the Embassy is publishing an updated report on the incident and its investigation. The report outlines the circumstances of the case as well as aspects that require further clarity. Where did the Skripals go in the morning of 4 March with mobile phones switched off? Why does the UK not publish recordings from the CCTV camera on Sergei’s house? How was it possible that the Skripals lost consciousness simultaneously several hours after exposure, while the first person to attend to them was the Army Chief Nurse who happened to be walking by? Where and when did Charlie Rowley from Amesbury find the sealed bottle with poison and how is that bottle related to the Salisbury incident? Where are the Skripals now, what is their health condition, and how free are they in their contacts and actions? These are but the most obvious questions that require convincing answers. Without them, any discussion of “Russia’s responsibility”, let alone the calls on Russia to “change behaviour”, is meaningless.

As Russia has repeatedly confirmed, we remain open to cooperation in investigating the incident, as well as more broadly to normal, equal and respectful relations with the United Kingdom. The choice is for London to make.

4 March 2020; 16:55