London, Sept 27 (AFP) British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday he told Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during “tough” discussions that Moscow would no longer get away with using chemical weapons. Also Read - Brian Lara Draws Reference From Sachin Tendulkar's Unbeaten 241 vs Australia to Combat Coronavirus Pandemic, Says Need to Learn Discipline From Master Blaster
Hunt told Sky News he and the Russian foreign minister had a “frank exchange of views” on the margins of a United Nations summit in New York this week. Also Read - Govt Recommends Homemade Face Masks While Stepping Out of House; Follow These DIY Steps
The interview aired one day after the British-based investigative group Bellingcat reported that one of the suspects in the poisoning in England of former double agent Sergei Skripal was a highly decorated colonel in Russian military intelligence (GRU). Also Read - IPL 2020: In Constant Touch With Foreign Boards, Says BCCI Official
“It was pretty tough because it is not acceptable for Russia to instruct two GRU agents to use chemical weapons on British soil,” Hunt said.
The discussions marked the first British ministerial contacts with Lavrov since the March incident.
Hunt said the 2006 killing with a radioactive isotope of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko that Britain also blames on Russia, made Moscow think it could get away with other similar crimes.
“They feel they got away with (Litvinenko’s murder). That’s why (British Prime Minister) Theresa May’s reaction this time has been very different,” Hunt said.
Skripal and his daughter Yulia both recovered from the March attack with what Britain says was a Soviet-designed nerve agent called Novichok.
But the incident prompted the biggest-ever wave of diplomatic expulsions between Russia and Western allies.
Relations between London and Moscow have been effectively frozen ever since.
Russia has stiffly denied carrying out either the Litvinenko assassination or the March attack.
The Russian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to Hunt’s comments or give its own account of what the two diplomats discussed in New York.
Russian news agencies separately quoted an unnamed member of the Moscow delegation as saying Hunt and Lavrov “exchanged opinions” during a working breakfast of the five permanent UN Security Council members earlier Thursday. AFP NSA
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.