Millennium Post

Russian fiasco

Even as the British are, reportedly, trying hard to ensure a safe and secure hideout for the Skripals in the US, Russia's Ambassador to the UK has requested a meeting with the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. This is unfolding even amid mounting tensions over the investigation into a nerve agent attack on the former Russian double agent in Salisbury. Relations between London and Moscow have steadily worsened since the UK government pointed the finger at Russia over last month's poisoning of Sergei Skripal. Moscow, naturally, continues to deny all involvement. The Russians believe that it is high time to arrange a meeting between Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in order to discuss the whole range of bilateral issues, as well as the investigation of the Salisbury incident. Yakovenko has already sent a personal note to Johnson. The UK Foreign Office responded by stating it would "consider their request and respond in due course". But, interestingly, the British Foreign Office suggested that the Russian move was a diversionary tactic. "It's over three weeks since we asked Russia to engage constructively and answer a number of questions relating to the attempted assassinations of Skripal and his daughter." The Russians, predictably, have repeatedly criticised the UK government and Johnson since Britain accused Russia of attempting to murder the Skripals using the nerve agent Novichok. Yakovenko repeated Russian allegations that Britain has denied its requests for information on the Skripals and the investigation into the attack. Both Sergei and Yulia Skripal still remain hospitalised but are recovering. Skripal, 66, is no longer in a critical state and is understood to be responding well to treatment. While the National Health Service would not comment specifically on his case, sources have it that being out of a critical condition generally means that a patient can speak. Yulia, 33, released her first public statement on Thursday after regaining consciousness last week. She thanked those who had treated her and her father and all those who had sent "messages of goodwill". Johnson welcomed the news of Sergei Skripal's improved condition and wished both patients a "quick return to full health". The UK Foreign Office said that Yulia Skripal has so far declined the Russian Embassy's offer of consular assistance following the attack. The Russian Embassy has repeatedly said it requested consular access to Yulia and Sergei Skripal, but that it had been "denied". In the wake of the poisoning, the UK and its allies expelled scores of Russian diplomats triggering retaliatory expulsions by Russia. Indeed, the mystery Salisbury attack has now had international ramifications. And, in the present circumstances, no one can be too careful.

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