Published: Thu, March 22, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Moscow slams Boris Johnson for comparing Russia's World Cup to Nazi Olympics

Moscow slams Boris Johnson for comparing Russia's World Cup to Nazi Olympics

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has compared the upcoming football World Cup, due to be held in Russian Federation this northern summer, to the 1936 Olympics held in Nazi Germany.

Earlier on Wednesday, the ministry took the extraordinary step on Wednesday of summoning representatives from every foreign diplomatic mission in Moscow to hear a long, public diatribe - the latest attempt to rebut British accusations that Russian Federation used a weapons-grade nerve agent in the poisoning in Salisbury, England.

Asked by Labour MP Ian Austin at Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee whether Russia's hosting of the games was comparable to Nazi Germany's hosting of the Olympic games, Johnson replied that the comparison was "certainly right".

Mr. Johnson's remarks drew anger in Moscow, where Maria Zakharova, the Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman, said in a statement: "There isn't the slightest doubt now that all of London's actions in terms of Russian Federation are aimed at creating an image of an enemy".

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"We have destroyed all chemical weapons", he added, rejecting Britain's claim that only Moscow could be behind the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.The poisoning in the English city of Salisbury on March 4 has led to a diplomatic crisis, with Britain expelling 23 Kremlin diplomats. He said he had been pleasantly surprised "at the strength of the solidarity that there is with the U.K". After her demand was rejected, the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on Moscow, which included expelling 23 diplomats, limiting diplomatic ties and freezing Russian state assets in the UK.

"The fact, that they [UK officials] categorically reject to file an official request and deliberately and arrogantly fan anti-Russian rhetoric in the public sphere bordering on hysteria, indicates that they clearly understand they have no formal pretext to go down a legal road", said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

But giving evidence to MPs, Mr Johnson suggested the timing of the nerve agent attack was probably linked to Russian president Vladimir Putin's re-election campaign. That was the reason for going to Moscow, to show we are willing to engage.

He also rejected the assertion by Russian Federation that it had nothing to do with the attack on Mr. Skripal and his daughter on March 4.

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Merkel emphasized Germany's solidarity with Britain in a speech to lawmakers in Berlin on Wednesday.

"But at what price?" she said.

Merkel added: "I would be happy if I didn't have to name Russian Federation here, but we can't disregard evidence because we don't want to name Russian Federation".

"It has been a mixture of a very firm diplomatic response - the biggest expulsion of undeclared Russian agents since the 1980s - coupled with a series of measures created to push back on Russia in all sorts of ways", he said.

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The Russian foreign ministry had invited all ambassadors in the country to attend the meeting, but reports suggested a number of Western diplomats refused to attend.

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