- Gavin Williamson says Russia should “go away” and “shut up” as the Kremlin plans to expel UK diplomats.
- The UK Defence Secretary said relations between London and Moscow were “exceptionally, exceptionally chilly.”
- Britain has found Russia culpable of the chemical attack in Salisbury last week.
- The attack has left Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in critical condition.
LONDON – Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has told to Russia to “go away” and “shut up” as tension between UK government and the Kremlin continues to escalate.
Williamson was addressing the media after Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she had expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the UK after finding Russia culpable of the chemical attack in Salisbury last week.
The attack has left former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in critical condition.
Asked about reports that the Russian state is planning to respond by expelling UK diplomats from Moscow, Williamson said: “We will look at how Russia responds to what we have done. It is absolutely atrocious and outrageous what Russia did in Salisbury.
“We have responded to that. Frankly, Russia should go away, it should shut up.”
He also suggested that the two states could be heading for a return to the Cold War, saying: “Well, let’s face it, relations ain’t good are they…. it’s exceptionally, exceptionally chilly at the moment.”
He added: “Russia has in my view made a deliberate political decision in terms of what they did, in terms of attacking Britain.”
Watch Williamson mock Russia
"Frankly Russia should go away, it should shut up" – UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson asked about Russia's response to its diplomats being expelled https://t.co/MoQBur2QI3 pic.twitter.com/xr94PxX23c
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) March 15, 2018
Williamson was speaking in London to announce that the government is spending £50 million to develop a new chemical weapon defence centre at the Ministry of Defence’s confidential laboratory, where the nerve agent used against Skripal and his daughter was identified.
“If we doubted the threat Russia poses to our citizens, we only have to look at the shocking example of their reckless attack in Salisbury,” he said.
“But we have world-class expertise at Defence Science Technology Laboratory Porton Down and today I can announce we will be strengthening this capability by investing £48m in a new Chemical Weapons Defence Centre to ensure we maintain our cutting edge in chemical analysis and defence.”
He said Britain had arrived at a “profound moment” in its history and said the country could not afford to “sit back and let events overtake us or step forward.”