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Kremlin: Putin to choose measures against London corresponding to Russia's interests

Russian President Vladimir Putin will personally choose an option of retaliatory measures against London that will best correspond to Russia's interests, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

"A final decision [on retaliatory measures] will, of course, be made by the president of the Russian Federation. There are no doubts that he will choose the variant that best of all corresponds to the interests of the Russian Federation," Peskov told reporters.

Russia will take retaliatory measures against the UK shortly, he added. "Naturally, they [retaliatory measures] will follow soon, the Foreign Ministry and other state bodies will present their proposals," he said.

When asked if the Kremlin was ready to support Russians who could be affected by London's sanctions, the Russian presidential spokesman said that he did not know "about London's sanctions against Russians in the United Kingdom."

Regarding the whole situation [with the case of former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergey Skripal], unfortunately, we have to say once again: Russia is perplexed and does not comprehend the stance by the British leadership and the British side against the backdrop of Skripal's case," the Kremlin spokesman said. He stressed that "the accusations are unsubstantiated, moreover, these accusations surfaced even before any information on the used substance could appear."

"We consider the British position absolutely irresponsible with regard to diplomatic relations, as well as final goals and interests of a real investigation and search for the people who are behind this and from the point of view of violation of the international law by the British side, which is also obvious," Peskov told reporters.

Presidential election

"This has no effect at all, and the election campaign is going according to the schedule, and, naturally, it is a priority for us. We insist that Russia has no relation to what happened in the UK. The most important thing for us now is domestic affairs," Peskov said. He mentioned Russian President Vladimir Putin's words that "the Russian domestic affairs and all that should be done on a permanent basis to improve the quality of life for the Russians are an absolute priority.".

Skripal case

On March 4, Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a park bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury after being exposed to a nerve agent. Both are currently hospitalized in critical condition.

On March 14, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of an "unlawful use of force" against her country. She claimed that Moscow was involved in the poisoning.

In 2004, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested Skripal and later on, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for high treason. In 2010, the former colonel was handed over to the US as part of a swap deal involving espionage suspects. Later that same year, Skripal arrived in the UK and settled there.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 15Mar18]

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