Russian ambassador says diplomat expulsions are 'not the end of the world'

Yuri Filatov claims British authorities have questions to answer about the Salisbury attack

Russian ambassador says diplomat expulsions are 'not the end of the world'

Yuri Filatov. Image: Paul Quinn

The Russian Ambassador to Ireland says the expulsion of diplomats between both countries is 'not the end of the world'.

Yuri Filatov has suggested that some within the British government may actually be behind the Salisbury poisoning attack.

It comes a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed the targeting of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia could have been in Britain's interests.

The UK claims Moscow was responsible - something the Kremlin denies.

Ireland is among 29 countries who have expelled Russian diplomats over the Salisbury attack, with EU and US leaders having publicly backed the British claims of likely Russian responsibility.

On Friday, it was confirmed that an Irish diplomat in Russia is also being sent home in a tit-for-tat response to the Irish expulsion.

Speaking to the media this afternoon, however, Ambassador Filatov said relations remain strong between the two countries despite the recent expulsions.

He explained: "The incident is very unfortunate - it has been unwarranted, and doesn't have any bearing with the real state of things.

"But it's not the end of the world, and I think we have a very positive agenda before us."

He claimed the British authorities have questions to answer, alleging: "If they choose to ignore them, there is ample ground to assume that we're dealing with a grand-scale provocation organised by London with the aim to discredit Russia."

Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal remains in a critical condition following the attack one month ago.

Doctors say his daughter's condition has improved, with British media reports suggesting Yulia is now conscious and talking.

Reporting by Paul Quinn and Stephen McNeice