Russian FM: UK Using Skripal Case to Undermine Soccer World Cup in Russia

© REUTERS / Peter NichollsPolice officers stand guard outside the home of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Britain, March 8, 2018
Police officers stand guard outside the home of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Britain, March 8, 2018 - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - UK claims of Russia's involvement in a poisoning of the former officer of Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are provocative and aimed at undermining trust in Russia as the organizer of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"As we expected, the United Kingdom is especially active, being unable to forgive Russia for winning the right to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup in a fair struggle. The UK media outlets are actively repeating calls for a boycott of the upcoming World Cup. Such proposals come not only from journalists, but also from officials — in particular, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons [Tom] Tugendhat. The pretext is the poisoning of Skripal, an investigation into which has not only been completed yet, but, in fact, has not yet begun," the statement read on Monday.

The ministry added that such "provocations" were complicating the bilateral relations and damaging the world's sports.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017 - Sputnik International
Stoltenberg: Former Spy Skripal’s Poisoning ‘of Great Concern to NATO’
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday that Russia was "highly likely" responsible for suspected poisoning of Skripal, who reportedly also served as an agent for the UK secret intelligence service MI6. May said that the substance, used in the poisoning of Skripal, was identified as a military-grade nerve agent of the so-called Novichok group developed in Russia. Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called May's remarks a "circus."

Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious last week on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury. Both of them remain in critical condition and are being treated for suspected exposure to a chemical.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said the Kremlin has no information on what could have caused the apparent attack and noted that Moscow was ready to cooperate with the UK investigation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has pointed out that no facts proving Russian involvement in the incident have been provided.

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