"And you see what's happening now with these two characters produced in this satirical way by [President Vladimir] Putin on Russian TV, asked these ludicrously patsy questions, making a mockery of the whole thing. And it really makes my blood boil … I hold that regime in absolute contempt. I'll say it now — those two guys on Russian TV are murderers. And if they dispute that fact, they can sue me in the courts," Johnson said, addressing an audience in Washington D.C. on Thursday, as quoted by the SkyNews broadcaster.
Johnson also admitted that he made a "classic mistake" by believing, during his term as foreign secretary, that he could deal with Putin and launch reset with Russia.
According to political commentator Marcus Godwyn, whatever is revealed by the interview, "Theresa May and the British government have no choice but to double, triple and quadruple down on their version of events and their accusations."
"It is hard to see how even a partial admition by London that they were mistaken would not result in a vote of no confidence and an early general election that the Conservatives would lose," Godwyn said, adding that the Labour lawmaker have also been supporting the government's view of the situation.
"This, by the way, is an unprecedented situation and shows just how deeply Britain's democracy is corrupted. This why the reaction from London will be to bang the table, shout that they know it is 'highly likely' these men did it 'almost certainly' on the orders of Vladimir Putin and that if the Russian state had any scruples, they would hand these suspects over in spite of not being able to extradite Russian citizens abroad, admit their guilt and offer an apology etc, and they will keep shouting this as loud and as long as possible."
On Thursday, the RT broadcaster released an interview with Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, in which the men refuted any involvement in the Skripal case, saying that they had no relation to the Russian military intelligence service (GRU) and visited the United Kingdom as tourists. The UK Foreign Office called the interview "obfuscation and lies."
Zakharov also called UK accusations that Petrov and Boshirov had lied during an interview with RT and Sputnik, "unacceptable," adding that the Russian Foreign Ministry would consider their request for assistance if they filed one.