London (CNN)Russia's ambassador to the UK has requested a meeting with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson amid tensions over the investigation into a nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent in England.
Russian envoy requests meeting with UK foreign secretary over poisoning row
Relations between London and Moscow have steadily worsened since the UK government pointed the finger at Russia over last month's poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury. Moscow denies all involvement
"Unfortunately, the current state of the (UK) Foreign Office interaction with the Embassy is utterly unsatisfactory," the Russian Embassy's press office said Saturday.
"We believe that it is high time to arrange a meeting between Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in order to discuss the whole range of bilateral issues, as well as the investigation of the Salisbury incident."
Yakovenko has already sent a personal note to Johnson, the embassy said.
The UK Foreign Office said it would "consider their request and respond in due course." But a Foreign Office spokeswoman suggested the Russian move was a diversionary tactic.
"It's over three weeks since we asked Russia to engage constructively and answer a number of questions relating to the attempted assassinations of Mr. Skripal and his daughter," the spokeswoman said in a statement. "Now, after failing in their attempts in the UN and international chemical weapons watchdog this week and with the victims' condition improving, they seem to be pursuing a different diversionary tactic."
The Russian Embassy in London has repeatedly used its Twitter account to criticize the UK government and Johnson since Britain accused Russia of attempting to murder the Skripals using the nerve agent Novichok.
At a news conference Thursday at the Russian Embassy in London, Yakovenko repeated Russian allegations that Britain has denied its requests for information on the Skripals and the investigation into the attack.
Both Sergei and Yulia Skripal remain hospitalized but are recovering.
Sergei Skripal is "improving rapidly" and is "no longer in a critical condition" following the March 4 attack, the hospital treating him said in a statement Friday.
Christine Blanshard, medical director at Salisbury District Hospital, said Skripal, 66, was responding well to treatment.
While the National Health Service would not comment specifically on his case, a spokeswoman said that being out of critical condition generally means a patient can speak.
Yulia, 33, released her first public statement Thursday after regaining consciousness last week. She thanked those who had treated her and her father and all those who had sent "messages of goodwill."
Writing on Twitter, Johnson welcomed the news of Sergei Skripal's improved condition and wished both patients a "quick return to full health."
The UK Foreign Office said Thursday that Yulia Skripal has so far declined the Russian Embassy's offer of consular assistance following the attack. The Russian Embassy has repeatedly said it requested consular access to Yulia and Sergei Skripal, but that it had been "denied."
In the wake of the poisoning, the UK and its allies have expelled scores of Russian diplomats, triggering retaliatory expulsions by Russia.