- REUTERS/Simon Dawson
- Boris Johnson has warned Putin he is “not fooling anybody” over the Salisbury attack.
- Russia continues to deny involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
- However, the UK foreign secretary today accused Russia of concealing a “needle of truth in a haystack of lies.”
- Johnson is in Brussels to meet with EU ministers about the attack.
LONDON – Boris Johnson warned Russia that it is “not fooling anybody” with its response to the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, and and described the Kremlin’s reaction as “increasingly absurd.”
Speaking on Monday as he arrived in Brussels to meet with EU counterparts, the UK foreign secretary accused Vladimir Putin’s government of “trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation.”
Johnson is in Brussels to galvanize a joint EU condemnation of Russia as relations between London and Moscow continue to deteriorate.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced last week that she had expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the UK after finding Russia culpable of the chemical attack in Salisbury last week.
The attack left former double agent Skripal and his daughter Yulia in critical condition.
Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s ambassador to the EU, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that Russia had “nothing to do” with the attack. However, Johnson this morning rejected Russian denials.
“The Russian denials grow increasingly absurd,” the Conservative minister told journalists, citing the large array of sometimes contradictory theories pushed by Russia politicians and state media.
“At one time they say they never made Novichok, at another they say they did make Novichok but all the stocks have been destroyed, and then again they say that they made Novichok and all the stocks have been destroyed but some of them have mysteriously escaped to Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the United States, or even the United Kingdom.”
He added: “I think what people can see is that this is a classic Russia strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation.”
“What really strikes me talking to European friends and partners today is that, 12 years after the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London, they’re not fooling anybody anymore.
“There is scarcely a country around the table here in Brussels that has not been affected by some kind of malign of disruptive Russian behaviours.
“That is why I think the strength and resolve of our European friends is so striking today.”
Foreign Secretary BorisJohnson has strong words for Russia ahead of a EU foreign affairscouncil meeting pic.twitter.com/hCOB9bsekc
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 19, 2018
Johnson and other EU foreign ministers are expected to issue a joint statement later in the day.
Last week the UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Russia should go away, it should shut up.”