AKTAU, Kazakhstan – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Sunday that the United States reason for imposing the latest sanctions on Moscow, blaming the Kremlin for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia, are “absurd.”
“I think everyone who is even slightly familiar with the so-called Skripal case, understands the absurdity of the statement contained in the State Department’s official document; that the US has established that it is Russia that is guilty of the Salisbury incident,” Lavrov told reporters.
The Russian minister, who made his remarks at the Caspian Summit being held in the Kazakh city of Aktau, also referred to the ultimatum issued by Washington giving Moscow three months to allow a United Nations inspection on Russian territory and to guarantee that it will not use chemical weapons again.
Lavrov said that it was three years ago, after a number of inspections by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), that confirmation was given that the chemical weapons disarmament program had concluded in Russia.
In contrast, he said, the US – which was to have allowed the same inspections within the same time period – once again requested a postponement until the early 2020s.
The top Russian diplomat did not say whether Moscow will allow new inspections in accord with the White House’s demand, but he insisted that the Russian chemical factories had already been visited by OPCW experts.
He said that Russia was not closing its plants to inspections, but the OPCW experts had already been given access to anything they wanted to check or view and had come to the conclusion that Russia was no longer producing chemical weapons.
On the other hand, Lavrov said that the new sanctions will not be an impediment to a new meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, who held their first summit on July 16 in Helsinki.
The US this past week announced new sanctions on the Kremlin that, among other things, will prohibit starting Aug. 22 the export of certain tech products to Russia.
At the same time, Washington threatened to impose yet another round of much more severe and economically harmful sanctions – such as prohibiting all exports and imports and restricting diplomatic relations, among others – if Russia does not comply within three months with its demands on chemical plant inspections.
Skripal and his daughter were allegedly poisoned with a toxic nerve agent last March in England.
London considers it to be a proven fact that father and daughter were poisoned with a Russian nerve agent called Novichok and that it was Putin who ordered the hit on the ex-spy.