Moscow: Russia was preparing a “targeted” response “very soon” in a diplomatic dispute with Britain, its deputy foreign minister said on 17 July, putting off an expected announcement of counter-measures against London.
“Our reaction will be targeted and appropriate. British authorities will be informed very soon,” Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in comments broadcast on state television.
“But we will take into account the interests of ordinary citizens — of tourists, of participants in cultural and academic exchanges, of businesses. We don’t want them to suffer as a result of London’s actions,” Grushko said.
Russian foreign ministry said earlier that Russia was preparing to unveil “appropriate measures in response” after London expelled four Russian diplomats and announced visa restrictions on Russian officials.
Grushko hinted that Russia would not respond by expelling British diplomats from Moscow as had been widely expected, saying the British embassy in Moscow would have 80 less staff if Russia had taken this approach in the past.
Britain announced the measures on 16 July in retaliation for Moscow’s refusal to extradite the chief suspect in the radiation poisoning murder of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in London last year.
Russia says its constitution prevents it from extraditing its own citizens to face trial in another country. Britain says this is possible under an international accord signed by Russia.
Grushko said Britain was attempting to punish Russia for observing its own constitution. “This is not only unfair and unacceptable, it also contradicts common sense,” Grushko said.
“We hope that members of the European Union will not give in to attempts to turn EU-Russia relations into an instrument for the achievement of unilateral political aims,” Grushko said.