First Meeting Between May And Putin Since Salisbury Poisoning

28 June 2019, 10:54

The Prime Minister meets the Russian President at the G20
The Prime Minister meets the Russian President at the G20. Picture: PA

Theresa May has had her first meeting with the Russian president since his country was blamed for last year's Salisbury nerve agent attack.

The Prime Minister and the Russian President shook hands but didn't smile prior to their meeting at a summit of world leaders in Japan.

Prime Minister Theresa May told Vladimir Putin "there cannot be a normalisation of our bilateral relationship until Russia stops the irresponsible and destabilising activity", Downing Street said following her meeting with the Russian president.

Ahead of the meeting, the PM said her decision to hold talks with Mr Putin did not mean a return to "business as usual" with Russia.

She said she will make her position on the two Russian intelligence agents believed to be responsible for the nerve agent attack in Salisbury "absolutely clear" to Mr Putin at the talks on the margins of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

The Russian president dismissed the Salisbury incident as "fuss about spies and counter-spies" that was "not worth serious interstate relations" and said "traitors must be punished".

Responding to Mr Putin's claim that liberalism was "obsolete", Tory leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt tweeted: "This just shows what we're up against. Corbyn at home, and people trying to subvert our values from abroad.

"Our democratic system based on rules, respect for individual rights & human dignity has created more happiness & wealth than any other way of life anywhere in the world."

The UK believes Moscow's GRU military intelligence agency was behind the Salisbury attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Both survived the poison in Salisbury but in July 2018 Dawn Sturgess died after coming into contact with Novichok which is believed to have been in a perfume bottle.

Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service believe there is sufficient evidence to charge two Russians - known by the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - with offences including conspiracy to murder over the attack on the Skripals.