UK embassy accuses Russia of ‘disinformation’ over Skripals

In this file photo, members of the emergency services fix the tent over the bench where a man and a woman were found on in critical condition at The Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, southern England. (AFP)
Updated 07 September 2018
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UK embassy accuses Russia of ‘disinformation’ over Skripals

MOSCOW: The British embassy in Moscow on Friday accused Russia of spreading “disinformation” after London charged two Russian citizens with the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK.
The UK this week identified the men as Russian intelligence officers and said President Vladimir Putin was “ultimately” responsible for the March attack.
Moscow said pointing the finger at the Kremlin was “unacceptable.”
“Russia is distracting from the facts,” the UK embassy said on Twitter, after ambassador Laurie Bristow held a briefing on the case for foreign diplomats in the country.
The embassy accused Russia of spreading “37 disinformation narratives since March.”
On Wednesday Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova questioned the authenticity of CCTV photographs which the UK police released of the suspects, implying it was suspicious that the time on the photographs was identical.
“Maria Zakharova asked why the times on two CCTV images were the same: these were images of the suspects arriving in the UK taken from two cameras covering separate lanes at international arrivals,” the embassy tweeted.
The “operation (was) almost certainly approved at senior levels of (the) Russian state,” it said.
But the embassy added that “UK concerns are with the Russian state, not the Russian people.”
Britain has previously accused Russia of orchestrating the attack, but Moscow denies any involvement and insists it is ready to cooperate on an investigation.


India and Afghanistan review their strategic partnership

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2018
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India and Afghanistan review their strategic partnership

  • Afghan, Indian leaders “reviewed and positively assessed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership”
  • The two countries also decided “to strengthen connectivity, including through Chabahar port and the air-freight corridor.”

NEW DELHI: India and Afghanistan reviewed bilateral civil and military cooperation during a one day of meetings in  New Delhi on Wednesday.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which the two sides “reviewed and positively assessed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership.”

A press release from the Indian Prime Minister’s office announced after the meeting: “It was agreed to deepen the New Development Partnership in the areas of high impact projects in this field of infrastructure, human resources development and other capacity-building projects in Afghanistan.” 

 The two countries also decided “to strengthen connectivity, including through Chabahar port and the air-freight corridor.”

 “I would like to thank the Indian people for their commitment to Afghanistan's future,” Ghani said in a speech in New Delhi before leaving for Kabul.

“What India-Afghanistan share is deep and binding trust in democratic institutions,” he added.

Modi supported an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process” and pledged “India's unwavering commitment to support the efforts of the government of Afghanistan to this end, as also for the security and sovereignty of Afghanistan.”

 “Peace with the Taliban is important so that we can concentrate on counter-terrorism. The Taliban is part of Afghan society, ISIS (using another term for the terror group Daesh) is not. We must make that distinction,” Ghani said in his address at the New Delhi-based think tank, India Foundation.

 Commenting on Ghani’s visit, Vishal Chandra of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), a New Delhi-based think tank, said: “The timing of the visit is significant; he has come at a time when the Afghan forces are under great pressure from the Taliban and Daesh.” He added that Ghani was looking for wider regional support in initiatives to stem the rising tide of terrorism.

Talking to Arab News, Chandra underlined that “there is no question of India involving itself militarily in Afghanistan, but it might step up its efforts to ensure that they have better air capability and they don’t have shortage of ammunition. I don’t expect India to supply heavy weaponry.”

Harsh V. Pant, director of the think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) said: “Despite India scaling up its presence in the defence sector, New Delhi’s military presence in Afghanistan is limited.

“The appetite in India for military involvement is very small; there is no consensus about the military footprints New Delhi should have in Afghanistan. But there is a consensus that New Delhi’s security cooperation with Kabul should be extended and should be robust and that is what India is doing.” 

In his book “India’s Afghanistan Muddle” Pant argued that “India cannot evolve its equity in Afghanistan unless some form of military involvement happens.”

Pant told Arab News: “The visit of Ghani at this time is a sign of a certain maturity in the relationship where Afghanistan feels that India should be kept in a loop. The relationship has grown to an extent that two sides are comfortable with each other in sharing assessment about where the political trajectory is going.”