Russia’s ambassador to the UK told the journalists that the UK never asked to interview two suspects reportedly linked to Salisbury attack last year.
Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador in London, claims his country would satisfy the British government request to interview two suspects, Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin. However, during the year, there were no similar requests from the UK’s side, the diplomate said and added: “If the Russian side had been asked for that, we were happy to consider.”
The Russian diplomate spoke to Sky News days after meeting novichok victim Charlie Rowley, also revealed he wants his country to do a trade deal with Britain when the UK leaves the EU. being asked about the strange coincidence that Mishkin and Chepiga were in the UK that very day, Mr Yakovenko said that it is “the story of the British press and also the government but unfortunately it is not supported by the facts.”
The Russian ambassador: the UK refused to co-operate with Russia on anything in Salisbury
Attempting to support his claims, he cited the interview on Russian television with suspects Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin who said “officially” they are not members of the GRU.
He continued: “The British side could have an opportunity to question them but they were never asked for that. If the Russian side had been asked for that, we were happy to consider.
“We were ready to consider but the request never appeared. There was no request. Why?”
Asked why he thought no request had come, Mr Yakovenko laughed and said: “I don’t know. The people, these two people, they said on the Russian TV officially they had nothing to do with this Salisbury case. That was their statement.
“On the British side they refused to co-operate with Russia on anything in Salisbury so we simply do not understand the position of the British government.”
Regarding the nerve agent being developed in Russia, Mr Yakovenko replied: “There is no proof of that it was developed in the Russian labs.” He implied that Russia was being blocked from seeing Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the Russian double agent and his daughter who were targeted in the attack.
Regarding the UK’s broader relationship with Russia, Mr Yakovenko said it was thawing but there was some way to go, especially in the matters of Syria, Ukraine and Salisbury. He indicated that Russia would consider a trade deal, saying: “We are open for co-operation”.
Russia has been accused of interfering with the UK’s 2016 EU referendum, which the ambassador denied.