06:34 GMT +324 November 2017
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    Alexander Litvinenko, then an officer of Russia's state security service FSB, attends a news conference in Moscow in this November 17, 1998 file picture

    Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zakharova Holds Weekly Press Briefing

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    During her weekly press briefing on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on the newly released UK report on Litvinenko's death, as well as the situation in Syria and Ankara's crackdown on Kurds in the southeast of Turkey.

    Maria Zakharova said that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is set to attend the Munich Security Conference (MSC), however, the Russian government is yet to make a decision on the Russian delegation's head at the conference.

    "The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry traditionally participates in this forum every year, gives a speech, answers questions, and takes part in discussions. This event is already in the schedule," Zakharova said during her weekly briefing.

    Situation in Syria

    According to Zakharova, terrorist groups in Syria have become "active" ahead of the planned intra-Syria talks on the country's reconciliation. She added that al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham groups have received "serious reinforcements from Turkey" in the Syrian province of Aleppo.

    "Unfortunately, in recent days, we noticed that terror groups have intensified their activities ahead of planned intra-Syrian talks."

    Terrorists may use fortifications built by Turkey on its border with Syria as strongholds, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said, adding that Moscow was concerned over increased Turkish military incursions into Syria.

    "It cannot be ruled out that these fortifications along the Syrian-Turkish border may be used by militant groups as strongholds."

    "External forces" continue to supply arms to terrorists in Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

    "While all interested sides pin their hopes on the start of a meaningful and inclusive dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition, some external forces continue to help militants in Syria, including terrorist groups, providing them with arms and ammunition."

    Russia will continue its humanitarian operation in Syria, Zakharova said, adding that Moscow was surprised over Washington's claims that it "does not see" Russian humanitarian aid deliveries to the war-torn country.

    "Representatives of the US State Department said that they do not see Russia's efforts Russia in regard to providing humanitarian aid to Syria. This is very strange, especially since the State Department allegedly sees everything, including Russian tanks that are being flown in or crawling into the territory of other states, but there’s no humanitarian aid in sight."

    Claims of Russian aviation allegedly bombing Syrian opposition, civilians are "detached from reality," Zakharova said.

    "The only advice to those who keep accusing [Russia of allegedly hitting wrong targets in Syria] — use facts [on airstrikes] which Russia is providing almost on a daily basis," Zakharova said.

    UK Report on Litvinenko's Death

    UK report published on Thursday on the death of former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko is aimed at "demonizing Russia and its leadership," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said, adding that Moscow expected "such an outcome."

    "There was only one aim and it was obvious from the very beginning [of the inquiry] — to demonize Russia, demonize its official representatives, its leadership."

    On Thursday, the British Court blamed Russia for Litvinenko’s death but could not conclude that the polonium-210 had come from Russia.

    Moscow is interested in a unbiased inquiry into the death of Litvinenko, as well as other Russian nationals who died in the United Kingdom, Zakharova emphasized.

    Describing London's actions as a "politicized farce," Zakharova warned that the incident sets a dangerous precedent for using internal legal mechanisms to achieve political goals.

    Alexander Litvinenko fled from Russia to Britain in 2000. He died in 2006, three weeks after drinking tea with his former colleagues Dmitry Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoy in central London.

    Following his death, UK authorities claimed that Litvinenko's former colleagues had poisoned him with the radioactive isotope polonium-210. A public inquiry into Litvinenko's death was formally established by the UK government in July 2014.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that the UK report on Litvinenko's death was aimed to "sway public opinion" against Russia.

    EU Migrant Crisis

    European policies amid the migrant crisis are "irresponsible" and pose threat for the entire continent, Maria Zakharova said.

    "Such irresponsible European policies in regard to the crisis, the humanitarian disaster that is currently unfolding, pose a threat to the entire continent," Zakharova told reporters.

    Europe is facing a major refugee crisis, as hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from conflict-torn countries in North Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia attempt to escape poverty and violence in their home countries.

    "It seems that the reason behind this [policy] is not only the mass character of this phenomenon, but also the lack of a coordinated stance of the EU states regarding practical measures to solve this complex and deteriorating issue," the spokeswoman noted.

    Turkish Crackdown on Kurds

    Moscow called on Ankara to put an end to the policy of "extermination" of Kurds, Zakharova said.

    Zakharova said that Moscow supported academics, who had signed a petition calling for an end to Ankara’s violent attacks against Kurds.

    On January 11, over 1,000 academics from nearly 90 Turkish and foreign universities signed a petition entitled "We will not be party to this crime."

    "We cannot but support calls for the Turkish authorities outlined in this document to stop the extermination of the local population and the deliberate policy of resettling Kurds."

    Violence in Turkey escalated in mid-2015, when the Turkish government launched a military campaign against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is outlawed in the country.

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    Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zakharova Holds Weekly Press Briefing
    Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zakharova Holds Weekly Press Briefing
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