July 5, 2018 / 8:40 AM / 3 months ago

Britain 'dumb' if it thinks Russia would stage nerve attack during World Cup - Russian diplomats

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Britain is foolish if it believes Russia staged a new nerve agent attack in England in the middle of the soccer World Cup, Russia’s embassy to the Netherlands wrote on social media on Thursday.

A police officer stands in front of Amesbury Baptist Church, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

The embassy was commenting after two Britons fell critically ill after what is thought to be a chance encounter with the poison after an attack on former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March.

The British authorities have not accused Russia of involvement in the new incident, saying their working assumption is that the Britons were poisoned by traces of nerve agent left over from the original attack.

“How dumb (do) they think (Russia) is to use ‘again’ so-called ‘Novichok’ in the middle of the FIFA World Cup...The show must go on?,” Russia’s embassy to the Netherlands wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

Russia denies any involvement in the original attack.

Separately, Sergei Zheleznyak, deputy speaker of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, told state TV that the new poisoning incident in Britain looked like an attempt to spoil England soccer fans’ positive perception of Russia.

Russia is hosting the tournament, which ends on July 15, for the first time.

Zheleznyak said Britain needed to whip up an hysteria to distract attention from what its intelligence services were doing.

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh/Andrew Osborn; Writing by Polina Nikolskaya; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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