08:48 GMT22 January 2021
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    According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov, the Skripal poisoning case will affect Russia-UK counter-terrorism cooperation ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

    "Of course, it will influence it," Syromolotov said answering a corresponding question.

    The official recalled that the situation with the poisoning of former Russian FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko which affected Russia-UK counter-terrorism cooperation as well.

    "The United Kingdom suspended relations with us, prevented the law enforcement task force from visiting the Olympic Games in London, but then asked to come for the Sochi Olympics. It will be the same pattern now, naturally, they will want to visit [the FIFA World Cup in Russia]," Syromolotov said.

    On March 4, former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench near a shopping mall in the UK town of Salisbury. UK authorities have blamed Russia for attempting to assassinate the Skripals with the A234 nerve agent.

    READ MORE: Russian Foreign Ministry Points at UK Gov't 'Numerous Lies' in Skripal Case

    Russia has denied having any role in the poisoning, pointing to the lack of evidence provided by London to substantiate its accusations. Moscow has also released a list of questions addressed to the UK authorities on the case.

    Russia will host its first FIFA World Cup from June 14 to July 15. The matches will take place in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Saransk, Rostov-on-Don, Yekaterinburg, and Sochi.

    On US Presence in Syria

    While speaking about Syria, Syromolotov said that the United States was not going to withdraw its troops from the Middle Eastern country, adding that US servicemen were likely to stay in the conflict-torn state for years.

    "They [the United States] are not going to withdraw troops [from Syria], the example of Afghanistan proves this: when the US troops appear somewhere, they stay there for a long time," Syromolotov said.

    The diplomat added that the United States would not invest money into equipping its base in Syria’s al-Tanf if it was going to withdraw troops.

    READ MORE: Syrian Kurds: US Intends for Arab States to Deploy Military Contingent to Syria

    The Syrian government has repeatedly stated that the United States’ presence on the Syrian territory is illegal, and called for the withdrawal of its troops.

    The United States occupies a 34-mile zone around its military base in Syria's al-Tanf where it trains and equips the forces of the armed Syrian opposition. The Rukban refugee camp is located some 11 miles south of al-Tanf and inside the US-controlled zone on the Syrian-Jordanian border.


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