LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - Britain’s defence minister said on Thursday that Russia should shut up and go away as London and Moscow traded insults over the nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent in the English city of Salisbury.
After the first known offensive use of a such a nerve agent on European soil since World War Two, Britain said Russia was to blame and gave 23 Russians who it said were spies working under diplomatic cover a week to leave London.
“It is absolutely atrocious and outrageous what Russia did in Salisbury,” British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said. “We have responded to that. Frankly, Russia should go away, it should shut up,” he said.
Russia has denied it had anything to do the poisoning. Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman said in response to Williamson’s remarks it showed London had something to hide.
The comment from Williamson, tipped as a possible successor to May, is not the first barb he has aimed at Russia.
In January, he was quoted by the Daily Telegraph newspaper as saying Russia was looking to damage the British economy by attacking its infrastructure, a move he said could cause “thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths”.
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden