The Russian ambassador for Australia has attempted to diminish allegations of Russian involvement in an attack on a former spy with nerve agents. This poison attack left both Sergei Skripal and his daughter unconscious in a park in Salisbury, UK.
The government of the UK alleges that the nerve agent used was called Novichok, which was developed by the Soviet Union during the cold war.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined other world leaders in condemning Russia for its alleged involvement and ordered two Russian diplomats to leave Australia.
Despite this, during a press conference which lasted more than an hour, Grigory Logvinov, the Russian ambassador to Australia, raised questions about the poison attack.
He asked the Australian journalists who were present, “who has seen the Skripals” since what he called “their alleged poisoning”. He went on to say that nobody has seen a “real medical report” other than in “political statements” that they were harmed with an “alleged nerve agent”.
On Friday a UK judge, citing an unknown doctor who is treating the Skripals, said that they were in a “stable but critical condition”. They cited that the Skripals are expected to have endured lasting damage to their brains as a result of the nerve agent.
When Mr Logvinov was questioned if he thought the entire controversy was faked, he said it seemed “primitively fabricated” if nothing else. Other journalists prompted a further response by suggesting it was all a conspiracy to thwart Russia.
Mr Logvinov said it was a “well-orchestrated campaign” by the West, whom he suggested stop their “anti-Russian campaign” as it had “no future”. Journalists continued to press him hard, asking him to justify his claims and to comment on if there were Russian spies in Canberra.
As well as denying the presence of Russian spies in Australia, Mr Logvinov said that Russia had committed no wrongdoings in its annexation of the Crimea and the shooting down of MH17 over the Ukraine.
When asked if he believed another cold war was imminent, Mr Logvinov simply said “If the West wants it”.
When asked about these comments, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that she was “not surprised” to be hearing what she called “standard Russian propaganda”.
Of the two Russian diplomats ordered to leave Australia, Mr Logvinov continued by saying that they were not spies but simply “career diplomats”. Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull disagree, and have reinforced that their decision was right in order to penalise Russia.