Russia accused Britain on Monday of refusing to allow access to Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in violation of an international treaty, saying Moscow doesn’t know whether they are alive or dead a year after they were reportedly attacked with a nerve agent.
Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, said Britain is obligated to allow access under the Vienna Convention to determine whether the two are alive and want or need Moscow’s help.
Otherwise, he said, Britain could be responsible for “forced detention or even abduction of two Russian nationals.”
Polyansky used the first anniversary of the attack in the city of Salisbury to again criticise Britain’s refusal to provide proof for its allegation that Moscow was responsible for poisoning the Skripals with a nerve agent.
British Prime Minister Theresa May went to Salisbury on the anniversary to praise the “spirit and resolve” of its people after the attack, which left Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the hospital for weeks in critical condition.
It also sickened a police officer and a man who came in contact with a perfume bottle containing traces of the nerve agent a few months later, and the man’s girlfriend died.
The incident triggered a diplomatic freeze and raised tensions between the United Kingdom and Russia to their highest level since the Cold War.
It led to the expulsion of more than 150 Russian diplomats by Britain, the US and more than two dozen other allies and to new sanctions against Russia.
Polyansky said that there has been no contact with the United Kingdom and that Russia hasn’t responded to 10 pages of questions about the incident.
“It takes two to tango,” he said.
“We are ready to dance, no problem. We don’t have a partner, since the very beginning.”
Polyansky said the Russian government is worried about the fate of the Skripals and wants consular access to determine if they want help or not.
“The only way to determine it was to physically see the consul and say, ‘Yes, we don’t want your help,'” he said.
“OK. We would be satisfied with this, but it wasn’t done, in breach of the consular convention.”
Polyansky said repeatedly at the news conference that Britain and the rest of the world had determined Russia was responsible for masterminding the attack without proof.