Russian Ambassador to the EU: Russia Will Not 'Shut up & Go Away'

"Russia is not going to shut up and certainly not go away!" Vladimir Chizhov, Russian Ambassador to the EU, told Andrew Marr on BBC One this morning, responding to the much-mocked request to do so by UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson last Thursday.

The interview came in the aftermath of the March 4 poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter and following the tit-for-tat plan to remove British diplomats from Russia, after British PM Teresa May kicked out 23 Russian VIPs from the UK last week.

Despite the overwhelming synicism and mockery seeming to come from the Kremlin in response to the global accusations regarding their culpability in the March 4 attack, Chizhov told Marr that "It is not a funny matter, and the latest I heard from Moscow, two criminal investigations are to be launched by the Russian Investigation Commitee regarding the Skripal and Nikolai Glushkov cases."

He went on to tell Marr that Russia would be wanting to come to the UK to join British police in the investigations.

Marr then spoke to Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs, who would not answer directly as to whether the UK would allow the Russians to partipate in the investigation.

"We gave the Russians a very clear choice from the start: [to explain] how the chemical nerve agent novachok appeared on British soil or that we would be forced to follow the trail of culpability which leads to the Kremlin. Their response was not a response from a country that wants to be engaged in getting to the bottom of the matter."

Some in the UK, including Labor leader Jeremy Corbin, have suggested the poisioning of Skripal may have been carried out by members of the Russian mafia rather than the State itself.

"We gave the Kremlin a chance to answer and were met with smug sarcasm, denial and delay," Johnson told Marr.

Johnson explained that on Monday 19, technical experts from La Hague's Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would be coming to the UK to analyse the samples of the novachok nerve agent found during the Skripal investigation. "The samples will be tested by the top international laboratories," Johnson claimed, suggesting that Russian help was no longer needed or welcome.

"We've had evidence in last 10 years that Russia has received delivery of nerve agents and has been stock-piling novachok," Johnson told Marr.

He went on to note the reactions of the global community to this latest agressive act from Russia.

"We have seen a difference in reactions this time compared with the reaction to the Litvinenko poisoning in 2006; then there was more hesitation, more suggestions of the involvement of rogue elements. This time, more fingers are being pointed at Russia. Attitudes have changed," Johnson said. "And Russia does care what we say and that's why I think the UK is in the Kremlin's crosshairs. To the best of our knowledge, this is a Russian made nerve agent. People from the US, Germany, France, the Balkans have experienced malign Russian behavior. They see the country going in the wrong direction and are no longer willing to give Russia the benefit of the doubt. They are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the UK in this."

Marr then moved the topic onto the defense budget and saw Johnson noting that more needs to be spent.

"We are one of biggest contributers to the NATO defence budget, at 20%," he noted, going on to mention the UK's Cyber Security Center and the confidence that the country can defend itsself from infrastructure attacks and the like. 

As to further measures to be taken against Russia, the Foreign Secretary said they would be discussing the matter at the National Security Council in the coming days. 

"The UK is already persuing a number of measures and hardening our borders, using the tools available under existing statutes. We will be persuing those who corruptly obtained their wealth, those with proven links with Putin. Other measures, if any, will be decided."

By Katie Ruth Davies

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