Russia’s ambassador to London has denied that Sergei Skripal was poisoned by Moscow, after Theresa May claimed that Vladimir Putin directly ordered the attack.
Mr Skripal, 66, was poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury earlier this month, and remains in hospital in a severe condition, along with his daughter Yulia.
The latest denial comes after the Court of Protection gave doctors the go-ahead to take blood samples from the Skripals for testing by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
While the British government has pointed all fingers at the Kremlin, ambassador Alexander Yakovenko has denied that Mr Putin is to blame.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr Yakovenko claimed that Britain had refused to cooperate with Moscow over the investigation into the poisoning.
He slammed Boris Johnson’s comments and laid into the UK for pointing the finger of blame for the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal at the Kremlin.
‘History shows that British statements must be verified. We demand full transparency of the investigation and full cooperation with Russia,’ he said.
Adding: ‘How that was possible that the British authorities managed to designate the nerve agent used as so-called ‘Novichok’ and its origin so quickly,’ he said.
‘Could it mean that it is highly likely that the British authorities already had this nerve agent in their chemical laboratory in Porton Down?’
He also repeated Mr Putin’s claim that Russia has ‘nothing to do with this incident’.
The press conference also saw him condemn Boris Johnson as ‘totally irresponsible’ after he compared Russia hosting the World Cup to Hitler’s 1936 Olympics.’
‘I am authorised to say that Moscow considers this kind of statement made under the level of foreign secretary … unacceptable and totally irresponsible’, he said.
‘The British Government is free to take a decision about its participation in the World Cup.
‘But nobody has the right to insult the Russian people, who defeated Nazism and lost more than 25 million people, by comparing our country to Nazi Germany.
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‘That goes beyond common sense and we do not think British war veterans, including those of the Arctic convoys, would share this opinion.’
Despite the furore, Downing Street confirmed that Theresa May still has ‘full confidence’ in Mr Johnson.
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has also suggested that the best response to Russia hosting the tournament would be for England to win it.
‘I think the Prime Minister would, of course, want our team to win the World Cup’, a Downing Street spokesperson said.