Ferrero Rochers are the undisputed delicacy of choice at glitzy diplomatic shindigs, but critics of President Vladimir Putin have used graffiti to take an ironic swipe at Russia over the nerve toxin attack on a former double agent in Salisbury, southern England.
Britain and Russia have been trading public insults over what Prime Minister Theresa May described as the use of a Soviet-era, military-grade nerve agent called Novichok to strike down former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.
“Dine at the Russian Embassy,” read the white graffiti stenciled onto the pavement near the
Russian embassy in west London. On the menu were: Pasta Polonium, Sarin Spaghetti & Novichokolate, Who knows what we Putin.
In response to the attack, Britain has given 23 Russians who it branded as spies working under diplomatic cover at the Kensington embassy a week to leave. Russia denies any role in the poisoning and has vowed to retaliate against Britain for the expulsions. Its embassy has been tweeting its ripostes with barbs laced with sarcasm.
The temperature of 🇷🇺 🇬🇧 relations drops to ➖2️⃣3️⃣, but we are not afraid of cold weather. pic.twitter.com/mand9YyoaE
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) 14 March 2018
In 2006, green tea laced with radioactive polonium-210 was used to murder ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, a critic of the Kremlin, in Mayfair. A British inquiry said Putin had probably approved the murder of Litvinenko, though Russia has denied any involvement.
Alexander Yakovenko, Russia’s ambassador to Britain, said Moscow would exert maximum pressure on London in the continuing standoff, the Interfax news agency cited him as saying.
The outspoken diplomat has now lost 40% of his consular staff cut and complains it would seriously affect the work of his embassy.
In an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel, Yakovenko also accused Britain of cranking up its aggression against Moscow in order to distract the British public from the difficulties it was having managing the country’s 2019 exit from the European Union.
Britain, the United States, Germany and France have jointly called on Russia to explain how it lost track of the devastating nerve agent or if it had been complicit in the toxin attack, which they said threatened Western security.
- With additional reports from Reuters