20:30 GMT29 November 2020
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    Russia has nothing to do with the incident in Salisbury, where former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned, and wants to cooperate with the investigation to punish the perpetrators, but expects London to provide evidence on the case, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Alexander Yakovenko said in an interview.

    "We are together with the people of Salisbury… We want to cooperate on that matter in order to find the truth and in order to protect the life of Russian citizens… In the long term, we are expecting Britain will punish the ones who did it," the Russian diplomat told to local newspaper Salisbury Journal.

    At the same time, Yakovenko noted that the amount of time spent on the investigation — about six months — put London in a "difficult position."

    "From my point of view, certain things are being distorted. There are so many stories but no facts," he said, adding that Russia needed "results of the investigation" to find out what had really happened.

    The ambassador refuted the statement of UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who announced Moscow's involvement in the incident, based on the alleged use of Soviet-developed poison agent A234, known as Novichok.

    "We said that any modern lab, all around the world, could make this type of poison," the diplomat said, adding that it might be UK-based Porton Down lab as well.

    Solving the Salisbury problem is in the interests of both countries, and the work must be done jointly, he concluded.

    The conversation took place at the ambassador's residence last week, when it became known that the United States was introducing new anti-Russian sanctions in connection with the Skripal case.

    According to Yakovenko, the message of US President Donald Trump about this was a "gesture and political statement," as London failed to present any credible information to its allies.

    On March 4, the Skripals were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury.

    The United Kingdom and its allies have accused Moscow of having orchestrated the attack with what UK experts claim was the A234 nerve agent, albeit without presenting any proof.

    On July 12, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow had sent about 60 diplomatic notes to UK Foreign Office demanding that Russia be given access to the investigation of the Skripal case, as well as to the affected Russian citizens, but UK authorities did not react to them.


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