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    Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington

    Kremlin Disagrees With US Claims That Russia is Waging 'Diplomatic War'

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    Moscow's decision to expel 60 American diplomats was a reciprocal response, prompted by a US decision to do the same in an attempt to show solidarity with the UK over alleged Russian government involvement in the poisoning of former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

    Russian Presidential Spokesman Peskov has refuted the US remarks that Moscow is "waging diplomatic wars."

    "Russia has not unleashed any diplomatic wars, President Vladimir Putin from the very beginning was and remains a supporter of establishing good relations with all countries, including the United States. Russia has never been the initiator of sanctions or the expulsion of diplomats," Peskov told reporters.

    He stressed that "Russia remains open to mending ties," adding that the country "wants a friendly relationship."

    READ MORE: Ex-Russian FSB Agent Blasts UK PM May for 'Illiterate' Skripal Case Accusations

    When asked why Russia has not announced any retaliatory measures yet against other countries which have expelled Russian diplomats, the spokesman metaphorically said that "night brings counsel," a well-known Russian proverb which means that it is necessary to think over a decision before making it.

    Moscow's reaction comes after the US State Department noted that there was "no justification" for Russia's response, referring to the announced expulsion of 60 US diplomats and closure of the General Consulate in Saint Petersburg. However, Moscow's measures are a reciprocal response to Washington's previous order to remove 60 Russian diplomats from the country, whom the US branded "spies."

    After Russia's tit-for-tat move, the US, in its turn, opted for the further escalation of tensions and announced that it would be taking additional actions in response to Moscow's decision to expel US diplomats.

    READ MORE: Expelling US Diplomats Shows ‘Further Deterioration’ of US-Russia Relations — US

    The US removal of Russian diplomatic staff followed London's move to expel 23 Russian diplomats as UK Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of orchestrating the attack on former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury. Apart from the US, more than 25 other countries, including some EU states, Canada and Australia, followed London's lead and have expelled over 150 Russian diplomats in connection with the Salisbury incident so far. Russia has strongly rejected the accusations and offered assistance in the investigation.

    Kremlin on Investigation into Poisoning

    Dmitry Peskov said that Russia's proposal to convene an extraordinary session of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is due to Moscow's desire to get acquainted with at least some information about the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter on British soil.

    "To make fuller use of the opportunities provided by the organization [OPCW], because you know, otherwise, unfortunately, our country is deprived of the opportunity to receive any information about this case from the country where, in fact, this incident had happened," Peskov said.

    Russia wants an impartial and objective investigation, he reiterated.

    "Russia rejects any accusations of involvement in this incident. One of the attack's victims is a Russian citizen and all this, of course, gives grounds for active action within the only international organization competent in this issue," the spokesman concluded.

    On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia officially proposed to convene an extraordinary session of the OPCW Executive Council on April 4 to have a "frank conversation" and to establish the truth in the Skripal case.

    READ MORE: Georgia Reportedly Expels One Russian Diplomat Over Skripal Case

    Moscow has repeatedly offered its assistance in the inquiry; however, Moscow's request for samples of the chemical substance used to poison Skripal has been rejected, and Russian consular officers are still not allowed to meet Yulia Skripal, a Russian national, who has recently regained consciousness and the ability to talk.

    Sergei Skripal, a former colonel of Russia's GRU military intelligence service who also worked for UK intelligence and his daughter Yulia were hospitalized in critical condition on March 4. The UK authorities believe that the Skripals were exposed to the A234 nerve agent, which UK experts have claimed was developed in the Soviet Union. Sergei Skripal is still unconscious, with no recent updates on his health. 

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    Tags:
    diplomatic crisis, Russian diplomats, expulsion, war, Sergei Skripal, United States, Russia
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