Russian foreign minister regrets British intrigues against Russia
( RIA Novosti ) - Russia's foreign minister has expressed regret at what he called British intrigues against Russia.
Addressing students at the Foreign Ministry's school of international relations Monday, Sergei Lavrov said that willingly or unwillingly, Great Britain has become involved in underhanded machinations against Russia by offering political asylum to known criminals, such as the exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky.
"I do not think that the British side, in taking the decision several years ago to grant political asylum to certain odious characters, knowingly sought to manipulate Russia's internal affairs. But London has gradually found itself, willingly or unwillingly, drawn in as a participant in intrigues directed at Russia," he said.
For all that, Lavrov said he did not see anything tragic in the current state of Russian-British relations.
He noted that tensions between Moscow and London only arose in the wake of Britain's July decision to expel four Russian diplomats.
The expulsions, along with a suspension of bilateral talks on easing the visa regime between the two countries, came in response to Moscow's refusal to hand over Russian intelligence agent-turned-businessman Andrei Lugovoi, whom London calls the prime suspect in last year's murder of defector Alexander Litvinenko.
Russia responded in kind by expelling four British diplomats, refusing to issue visas to British officials, and prohibiting its own officials from traveling to Britain.