"We are expecting to receive comprehensive answers to our questions [from London and OPCW]. The Russian side is still ready for constructive engagement with Britain to clarify this very complicated matter," Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. "We are ready to cooperate in any international legal formats, we urge London not to hurry up with the destruction of evidence."
Zakharova also said it was "highly likely" that the provocation involving the poisoning of the Skripals was beneficial to the UK secret services or even staged by them in order to discredit the Russian government.
"Historically, the UK has been engaging in such actions [staging provocations]. This step falls in line with the Russophobic line of the conservative government that seeks to demonize our country. Among other things, this has been confirmed by the British national security strategy, as well as UK Prime Minister Theresa May's banquet speech at the end of last year."
Last week, the UK government announced the clean-up work at the sites of the suspected nerve agent attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury "to bring a small number of potentially contaminated sites back into safe use for the people of the city and its visitors." The department said that a total of nine sites, three of which are in the city center, have been identified as requiring "some level of specialist cleaning."
Yulia Skripal's Health
The Russian embassy in London said on Thursday that it had turned to the UK Foreign Office with a note demanding a medical examination of Sergei Skripal daughter's by Russian medics.
"Russian citizen Yulia Skripal has been illegally withheld by British authorities since March 4, 2018. They have blocked her from having any contacts with us. The embassy is concerned about Yulia Skripal's health condition, as well as the lack of any official information about her. All public statements made to date by the British authorities cannot be considered reliable. This scandalous situation once again confirms that an unprecedented provocation has been carried out with the help of the British special services in regards to the Skripal family, who are Russian citizens," the embassy spokesman has said.
The press secretary went on to say that the lack of possibility to visit the Skripals in order to inspect their condition and determine whether they are acting independently or under pressure.
The alleged poisoning attack has caused a severe diplomatic crisis in UK-Russian ties. May expelled Russian diplomats and called on the international community to take such action in solidarity with the United Kingdom. As a result, over 25 states expelled in excess of 100 Russian diplomats following London's suit. Moscow responded with the expulsion of the diplomats from the countries that had supported the move.