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    Alleged Poisoning Attack on Russian Ex-Spy Skripal in UK (226)

    Speaking in Bristol on March 15, the British Defense Minister commented on what Russian might do in retaliation to the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the UK. "Russia should go away and should shut up. But the government will consider what it does. It would be wrong to prejudge it," he said.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry has commented on Williamson's tough statement, saying that it shows that Britain's partners are worried and London has things to hide.

    "Highly Likely that the Secretary of Defense of Great Britain said: 'Russia should not take retaliatory measures, but withdraw and shut up.' And what else can the Defense Minister of a country — which conceals the circumstances of the use of chemical agents on its territory and does not want to transfer available information, as required by the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — say? London has something to hide. Their partners are nervous," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated.

    The Russian Defense Ministry, in its turn, has also addressed this strident call, saying that it proves the voidness of UK's accusations against Russia.

    "The rhetoric demonstrated today by the head of the British defense ministry Gavin Williamson is remarkable for his extreme degree of intellectual impotence," spokesman of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said.

    According to the spokesman, Moscow grown used to fake news that demonizes the country and "has strong immunity against it."

    During his first keynote speech since becoming Defense Secretary last year, Williamson has outlined the threats faced by the UK, modernization of the Defense Program, further investments in the armed forces, and the British response to the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

    One of the questions posed to Williamson by a reporter in the audience was: "Russia has said it will expel British diplomats from Moscow. Has the UK got a further package of measures it could unleash in response? And could this include a military response?"

    "What we will do is look at what Russia responds to what we have done. It's absolutely atrocious what Russia did in Salisbury. We have responded to that. Frankly, Russia should go away and should shut up. But if they do respond to the action we have taken, we will considerate it carefully and we will look at our options  but it would be wrong to prejudge our response," Williamson replied.

    READ MORE: Prepubescent Schoolboy in Charge of Our Armed Forces' — UK Defense Sec Mocked for Russia Remark

    Williamson assumed the post of the Defense Sec in November 2017 and his nomination by the UK PM Theresa May came as something of a surprise, since Williamson has no military background.

    READ MORE: Mr. Who? May Replaces Fallon as UK Defense Secretary With an Unknown Quantity

    Gavin Williamson, right, outside the Ministry of Defence in London after he was named as the new Secretary of State for Defence following the resignation of Sir Michael Fallon who admitted his behaviour had fallen below the high standards required in the role, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017.
    © AP Photo / David Mirzoeff
    Gavin Williamson, right, outside the Ministry of Defence in London after he was named as the new Secretary of State for Defence following the resignation of Sir Michael Fallon who admitted his behaviour had "fallen below the high standards required" in the role, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017.

    Williamson spoke of the "Russian threat," a subject he had already raised earlier this year, when he warned of a Russian attack on British infrastructure that could kill "thousands" in an attempt to align himself with more experienced counterparts. 

    "If we doubted the threat Russia poses to our citizens, we only have to look at the shocking example of their reckless attack in Salisbury," Mr. Williamson said on Thursday. 

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on UK accusations against Russia in relation to the Skripal poisoning case, saying:

    "Russia perceives the position taken up by UK authorities with great bewilderment and incomprehension… The accusations are groundless. Moreover, these accusations were voiced before any information about the substance used emerged, which shows the presence of all signs of a provocation against Russia," Peskov told reporters.

    Million-Dollar Investment

    Williamson also pointed out that the "chemical threat doesn't just come from Russia but from others," which then led to the announcement of a sizable investment in a new chemical weapons defense center.

    "But we have world-class expertise at Defence Science Technology Laboratory (DSTL) Porton Down and today I can announce we will be strengthening this capability by investing £48m (($67 million) in a new Chemical Weapons Defence Centre to ensure we maintain our cutting edge in chemical analysis and defense."

    Porton Down is located only a few miles from Salisbury, where the former intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter collapsed on March 4. The chemical weapon laboratory of the British military is where the toxin in Skripal's case has been identified as 'Novichok'.

    UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd will hold a meeting of the government's emergency response committee, Cobra, on Skripal's case, a source familiar with the government told Sputnik on Thursday. According to the source, relations with Russia will also be discussed.

    Alleged Poisoning Attack on Russian Ex-Spy Skripal in UK (226)


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