Putin says UK should stop blaming Russia for all ‘mortal sins’

Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture: Peter Muhly/PA Wire
Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture: Peter Muhly/PA Wire
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Russian president Vladimir Putin has hit out at Britain for blaming “all their mortal sins” on Russia.

He said undue accusations had been placed at Moscow’s door for everything from Brexit to the Skripal poisoning and the downing of MH17.

Mr Putin scoffed at suggestions Russian hackers had been interfering in state affairs, saying this was “not in line with our policy”.

“They now blame Russia for Brexit ... again, tosh,” he said.

“We have nothing to do with it whatsoever. This is the inner matter of the UK.”

Mr Putin added: “And I guess we can suspect that those who wanted the UK to leave the EU are Russian agents.” The Russian president noted UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was among those campaigning to leave the European Union.

“If they want to worsen their relationships with Russia, they can blame all their mortal sins on us and this is actually the case nowadays,” Mr Putin said.

“Brexit and Catalonia and the Skripal case, God knows what - and this plane again.”

Mr Putin was speaking to the heads of international news agencies on the margins of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

International investigators concluded earlier this week that a Russian military unit was responsible for firing the missile that brought down Flight MH17 over war-torn eastern Ukraine nearly four years ago.

Britain has now backed international calls by the likes of the Netherlands and Australia for Moscow to be held accountable for the event, which killed all 298 people on board.

In a statement, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the incident, which claimed the lives of ten British nationals, was “an egregious example of the Kremlin’s disregard for innocent life”.

But Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the findings, saying Russia had been barred from taking part in the investigation and did not trust its results.

The Russian defence ministry said the missile involved “more than likely” came from Ukrainian arsenals.

Mr Putin has questioned the UK’s explanation around the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, saying the use of a military grade agent “is not possible” as its victims would have died “immediately”.

Asked to explain who is responsible for the Skripals’ poisoning, the Russian president instead cast doubt over Britain’s own claims and called for an “objective” investigation.

He said: “I’m not an expert on those military grade toxic agents, but if such substance is used, then the victims die immediately ... right on the spot.

“But this was not the case likely and Sergei Skripal and his daughter are alive.

“They are out of hospital now and as we’ve seen recently on TV, his daughter looks fine, so thank God everyone is alive, everyone is well.

“So to say that a military grade agent was used is not possible and if it is the case, then it casts doubt on everything that has been said by the UK from the outset.”

The Skripals were admitted to hospital in March after being exposed to the Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury.

The British Government has said it was “highly likely” the Kremlin was behind the attack, an allegation which the Russian government has repeatedly denied.

It sparked the expulsion of approximately 150 Russian diplomats from nearly 30 countries, with Russia making tit-for-tat moves with expulsions of its own.

Mr Putin said “the most plausible” explanation could only be reached as a result of “a thorough investigation and a joint investigation”.

“From the very outset we have suggested that we should work on this investigation together but as you’re well aware Britain said no and the UK undertook its own investigation,” he said.

The Russian president said the issue should be put to rest unless London was willing to involve Moscow in a fresh probe.

“Either we can have a thorough and objective investigation or we should just stop talking about that because they don’t add to anything other than an exacerbation of our relationships,” he said.