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Russia rails against Britain at UN, denies Skripal role

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United Nations (United States) (AFP)

Russia unleashed a blistering war of words against Britain and the United States at the UN Security Council on Thursday, again denying it was responsible for poisoning a former double agent in England.

"It's some sort of theater of the absurd. Couldn't you come up with a better fake story?" Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, told the council. "We have told our British colleagues that 'you're playing with fire and you'll be sorry.'"

Sergei Skripal, a former double agent, and his daughter Yulia were found in a critical condition on a public bench in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

London has blamed Russia but the Kremlin has vehemently denied any involvement. Britain says the poisoning was carried out with a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union.

The row has triggered a wave of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions and inflamed tensions between Russia and Western governments.

"A propaganda war is being waged against Russia," railed Nebenzia, claiming that the goal was "to discredit and even de-legitimize Russia."

"This is all using the method of Dr Goebbels," he added in reference to Nazi Germany's propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

In her response, British Ambassador Karen Pierce said London had conveyed Russia's demand for consular access to the spy's daughter Yulia Skripal and that the British government had acted entirely properly within international convention.

"I won't take any lectures on morality or on our responsibilities," said Pierce, "from a country that, as this council debated yesterday, has done so much to block the proper investigation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria."

"It's yet another attempt by Russia to use this Security Council for political gains," said US diplomat Kelley Currie.

"This is not a tactic that is appropriate for this body," she said in reference to Russia's reference to Goebbels.

Russia on Wednesday requested the UN Security Council meeting, the same day that Moscow called a meeting of the global chemical watchdog, but failed in its bid to join a probe into the Salisbury incident by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

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