Britain and Russia accused each other of duplicity and untrustworthiness Wednesday, as diplomats at the global chemical weapons control body sought to bring some clarity to the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in England.
At a special meeting to discuss the case at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, the Netherlands, British diplomats dismissed an offer from Moscow to hold a joint investigation into the nerve agent attack as “perverse.”
The offer of a U.K.-Russian investigation was “a diversionary tactic, and yet more disinformation designed to evade the questions the Russian authorities must answer,” the British delegation said.
Britain, backed by its European and U.S. partners, has blamed Russia for the March 4 nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury, an accusation that Russia has vehemently denied.
Wednesday’s meeting was called at the request of Moscow, which has pushed for Britain to provide evidence backing its claim that Russia was responsible.
The case has plunged relations between the West and Russia to their lowest ebb since the Cold War, with multiple tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions.
In Moscow, Russia’s spymaster claimed the poisoning was staged by U.K. and U.S. intelligence agencies.
Sergei Naryshkin, director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, the top KGB successor agency, said the poisoning was a “grotesque provocation rudely staged by the British and U.S. intelligence agencies.”
Speaking Wednesday at an international security conference organized by the Russian Defense Ministry, Naryshkin said the poisoning was the latest U.S. effort to undermine Russia and was akin to its practices during the Cold War.
Meanwhile the 28-nation EU, of which Britain is still a member, lamented Moscow’s refusal to give information to Britain.
“Instead, we witnessed a flood of insinuations” targeting several EU member states, envoy Krassimir Kostov of Bulgaria, which currently holds the EU presidency, told the council meeting.