The Russian embassy in London believes that latest media reports about alleged Estonian and Czech contacts of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal are aimed at drawing as many US and UK allies as possible into the case, an embassy spokesperson said on Tuesday, APA reports quoting TASS.
The New York Times has reported, citing a high-ranking EU representative familiar with the situation, that Sergei Skripal had visited Estonia in 2016 to meet with the country’s intelligence officers. On Sunday, the Respekt news portal in the Czech Republic said Skripal had secretly visited Prague in 2012. "Despite the fact that it was a brief visit, this trip was useful for the local intelligence services. Representatives of Czech security services later met with the former Russian spy at least once in the United Kingdom," the paper said. New York Times sources confirmed those reports as well.
"Obviously, in the absence of any evidence of Russia’s involvement in Sergei and Yulia Skripal’s poisoning, UK special services are desperately trying to find a “motive” that could explain Moscow’s alleged guilt," the spokesperson said. "After all, for the lack of specific facts proving Russia’s involvement, the “motive” remains the only opportunity to link the Salisbury incident with a Russian trace, as all the previous arguments like 'Russia has a law which allows to kill traitors' have been completely debunked."
"Indeed, the former military intelligence officer sharing best practices with Czech and Estonian colleagues along with constant contacts with his MI6 handler could appear for the public as more or less plausible motivation of 'Russian retribution for a traitor,'" the source continued. "But the question arises why this information comes from the New York Times and not British officials, and not in the first days after the attack, but two months later?"
"And, as usual, the leak in question deals with secret services, and therefore cannot be verified by the public," he added.
"The mention of the Czech Republic and Estonia is meant to keep the policy going to draw the maximum number of the UK and US international partners into the Salisbury case. We don’t think this effort will be successful – after the mass expulsion of Russian diplomats, which turned out to be groundless, it’s unlikely that even Britain’s allies would take its statements for granted," the source said.
On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been earlier sentenced in Russia for spying for the UK, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, UK. Police said they had been exposed to a nerve agent.
Later, London claimed that the toxin of Novichok-class had been allegedly developed in Russia. With that, the UK rushed to accuse Russia of being involved, while failing to produce any evidence. Moscow refuted the accusations that it had participated in the incident and points out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia have ever done research into that toxic chemical.
By now, both of them have recovered from coma. According to the Salisbury hospital, Sergei Skripal continues to receive in-patient treatment. He is getting better, while his daughter was discharged from hospital and is undergoing rehabilitation at a place kept secret.