Remarks by Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, following the UNSC meeting on the incident in Salisbury
Q: Do you expect British sanctions on Russia soon?
A: We are not expecting or afraid of anything. Taking to the account how things have been developing during the recent years we do not exclude anything. This discussion and yesterday’s speech by the British Prime-Minister in the British Parliament are not coincidental. I think that’s looks like a prelude to a new political season.
Q: So, Ambassador it’s really coming from the highest level in the UK.
A: It always comes from the highest level. Last time when the incident took place it also came from the highest level.
Q: But it seems that you are not taking it seriously.
A: We are taking it very seriously. We were saying it all the time. Why we’ve been asking for cooperation with the UK from day one. Only few minutes ago Ambassador Pierce was referring to an ultimatum that Boris Johnson made in his letter to the Russian Ambassador in London when the incident took place presented as a request by the British site to cooperate while in fact it was a demand to to accept the gilt. At the same time our requests which we sent to British authorities constantly through OPCW and bilaterally were ignored.
Q: Have you received the copy of the documents she mentioned in the Council, pictures and other evidence?
A: Myself - noting more then I saw in media.
Q: So are you saying that the land of Sherlock Holmes no longer can produce any good detectives?
A: Well I’m sure that this country still bears some of them, but I personally do not know them.
Q: What next steps from Russia are to be taken?
A: We have our own investigation initiated by The Investigative Committee of Russia and I’m sure that they will take necessary steps.
Q: Russia has it’s own investigation?
A: Russia has been conducting it’s own investigation for a long time.
Q: What are the conclusions?
A: Look, I don’t know those conclusions since the investigation is going on. But the investigation has been open for a long time already.
Q: Who is doing the investigation?
A: By The Investigative Committee of Russia
Q: Is that in the Kremlin? Will you brief the Council?
A: Yes, you always say that in Russia, everything is in the Kremlin. The Investigative Committee of Russia is a Government body that conducts criminal and other types of investigations.
A: No, there is no GRU by the way, I forgot to tell the UK Ambassador, it was long ago renamed into the Chief Directorate of the General Staff. It’s no GRU anymore. But my British colleague is not aware of that and neither is Theresa May.
Q: And these two agents that she mentioned, are they part of any official body in Russia?
A: You are asking me? I saw their faces for the first time yesterday in media. There were many jokes about it in Internet. They even don’t have the real names. They say the names are fake. We asked the British ambassador to provide us with their fingerprints because everyone has to provide the fingerprints for visa application. The British side refused for no clear reason to me. So I am sure that having received this information our Investigative Committee would do some steps.
Q: Any “Novichok” left in Russia?
A: We were saying numerous times that first of all the term “Novichok” was invented in the West, not in Russia. Secondly we categorically deny that we continue to develop CW programme and we say that Russia’s chemical programme was stopped several years ago, which was confirmed by OPCW.
Q: Ambassador, are you looking to bring for the Council at some point the outcome of this investigation that Russia is conducting?
A: Look, first time the issue was initiated through the letter of the British Chargé d'affaires to the Security Council. It was the UK that requested the Security Council meeting. Second meeting was held on our initiative. We wanted to hear from our British colleagues how things were going and whether they could provide us with new facts and information. This time was their initiative, I do not exclude that next will be ours. We have to equalize.
Q: Can you give us some update on 1718 Committee report? Are you still opposing the publishing of it?
A: We still have have it on hold.
Q: Why are you withholding it?
A: Because they do not take into account out concerns in the report.