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General election: Russian ambassador to UK denies interference | World News

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Russia’s new ambassador to Britain has urged political parties to keep his country out of the general election, saying allegations of Russian interference have “nothing at all to do with realities”.

Andrei Kelin, who only took up his post a few days ago, told Sky News his mission is to improve relations with the UK, which fell to a post-Cold War low in the wake of the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury last year.

London blamed Moscow for the attack, but the Kremlin has denied any involvement.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were attacked with novichok and found slumped on a bench in Salisbury in March
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Sergei and Yulia Skripal were attacked with novichok and found slumped on a bench in Salisbury last March

The top official said the current phase of bad relations between the UK and Russia was an anomaly compared with the two countries’ long history and he hoped it would be corrected.

Asked what he wanted the UK to do to ensure this happens, the ambassador said: “I will say that I have a certain message for the UK.

“Please don’t use Russian issue, for things connected with Russia, in the internal political campaign. It is much better to concentrate on real priorities in economies, in politics, in domestic health care and solve the problems that are really existing and are really important for this country.”

Mr Kelin, who was speaking at the sidelines of an annual UK-Russia business forum in London, said he was surprised that Russia had been dragged into the political jousting between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party.

“Yes… we are a bit surprised,” he said.

He also alluded to allegations Moscow has faced of meddling in the US 2016 presidential election.

Russia is accused of using unconventional forms of warfare to attack Western democracies
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Russia denied any involvement in the attack in Salisbury

“First of all we were surprised when we had this accusation in the United States,” Mr Kelin said.

“It has become fashionable to accuse us about anything and everything, an intervention, which has nothing at all to do with realities.”

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Russia was accused of interfering with the 2016 US election

Boris Johnson drew a barrage of criticism earlier this month after he refused to allow the publication of a long-awaited parliamentary report into alleged Russian activities in the UK.

In an extraordinary row in the Commons, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said the PM’s actions would lead to questions about “links between Russia and Brexit and the current leadership of the Tory Party”.

Responding for the government, foreign office minister Christopher Pincher said: “It is rather rich for her to suggest that somehow the Conservative Party and this government is linked to Russian disinformation given the way her own party leadership has acted… hand in hand with Russian friends.”







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Mr Kelin said Moscow had no preference about who wins next month’s election.

“We are watching closely what political parties are saying, what kind of reports are being done,” he said.

“We have no preference in this relations and we are not at all trying to influence it, it does not make any sense. But with new administration, with new government, of course we will be doing our best to improve things but we need to see some signs of willingness to do that from the side of the UK government.”



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Russia’s relations with Britain and other western powers deteriorated sharply after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and with the ongoing conflict between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine.

Diplomatic ties chilled even further after the attempted killing of Sergei and Yulia Skripal using a novichok chemical weapon in Salisbury in March 2018.

The EU, the US and others have imposed a series of sanctions on the Kremlin and expelled a number of intelligence officers, but Mr Kelin said he thought relations were starting to improve with some countries and that he hoped Britain would follow suit.



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The UK and Russia “have more than 400 years of history… in our diplomatic relations”, he said.

“It is a very thick tissue and a lot of things are happening between our countries,” he said.

“The current situation is a bit unnatural. As with others we would like to have a relationship with UK, as with Germany, as with France, as with Italy and many others.

“Some of these countries have already come over this crisis and decide to be on the positive side so we hope that UK will also overcome the current disagreements and will move in its position.”

Mr Klelin spoke on the fringes of a Russian-British business event in London
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Mr Kelin spoke on the fringes of a Russian-British business event in London

On trade, Mr Kelin said there is a lot of potential for British companies wanting to do business in Russia and for Russian enterprises seeking to expand into the UK.

He said the value of trade between the two countries was rebounding despite the ongoing political tensions.

“We have a serious potential which is being cooled down unfortunately by officials here in London,” the ambassador said.

“But there is a great desire on the side of the Russian business and on the side of British business to continue work to increase and benefit from it.”

In a message to UK businesses, he added: “Come to Russia, enjoy opportunities that we are trying to offer.”

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