Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says she thinks the main objective of a recent diplomatic war on Moscow initiated by the United Kingdom is to cancel Russia’s holding of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The UK has accused Russia of being behind the March 4 poisoning of a former Russian double spy in the British city of Salisbury. Moscow has denied any involvement. Yet, several Western or Western-backed countries have joined the chorus, bashing Moscow over the poisoning, and expelling various numbers of Russian diplomats.
“It’s my impression that all they care about is taking the World Cup out of Russia,” Zakharova told Russia’s Channel 5 TV, as quoted by Sputnik news agency on Sunday.
“I have such an impression that… [some Western countries are only dreaming of] moving the World Cup from Russia… By all means. Everything is focused on that soccer ball, which, heaven forbid, will eventually touch the Russian football field,” she added.
The British royal family has already decided not to attend the event in Russia over the poisoning; and Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary, has compared Russia’s hosting of the 2018 FIFA World Cup to Nazi Germany’s hosting of the Olympics in 1936.
British lawmakers have suggested that the FIFA World Cup in Russia be postponed until after an investigation into the Salisbury incident or be moved to another country.
Scores of Russian diplomats have been asked to leave more than 25 countries over the past days in an apparently coordinated attempt against Russia. Britain has expelled 23 Russian diplomatic personnel.
Moscow has been responding in kind, ordering scores of foreign diplomats from more than two dozen “unfriendly” states to leave Russia.
The UK claims the nerve agent allegedly used in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal — the former Russian double agent — was Novichok, which was developed in the former Soviet Union, basing its accusations against Moscow on that assertion.
Moscow says the substance could have originated in the countries studying Novichok, including the UK itself, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Sweden.
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