Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has expressed regret that London has refused to cooperate with Russia on an investigation concerning the attempted murder of ex-Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, and reiterated that Russia is ready to work with British authorities on the case if they make a formal request to do so.
"In order to check the identity [of the two men suspected by UK prosecutors], in order for us to have legal grounds to check their identities, we must receive a request to do so by the British side. … There is such a thing as customary practice. And from the very beginning, the Russian side offered cooperation on investigating the circumstances" of the poisoning, Peskov said, answering a question about whether Russia was checking the identities of the two men UK Metropolitan police accused on Wednesday.
At the same time, Peskov rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's claim, made in parliament yesterday after the Met's presentation, that the poisoning was "almost certainly approved "at a senior level of the Russian state."
"Russia had nothing to do with the events in Salisbury. Russia is not involved in these events in any way. We view any accusations against the Russian leadership to be unacceptable. Yesterday, Mrs. May spoke about the possible involvement of the top Russian leadership. We reiterate that neither the top leadership, nor the leadership of the ranks below, nor any official authorities had or have anything to do with the events in Salisbury. There can be no question about this, and any assumptions or accusations on this subject are inadmissible," Peskov stressed.
Former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia fell victim to a suspected poisoning attack by what UK authorities said was Novichok nerve agent in the southern English city of Salisbury on March 4, 2018. London almost immediately blamed Moscow for the crime, sparking a diplomatic spat between the two countries. Moscow, which destroyed the last of its chemical weapons in 2017 under the supervision of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, vehemently denied the charges, and called for a joint investigation. Sergei and Yulia recovered enough to be released from hospital in April and May, and were taken to an undisclosed location by UK authorities.