Downing Street raises doubts about Russian election after Juncker congratulates Putin
Downing Street has questioned the conduct of Russian election within hours of Jean-Claude Juncker congratulating Vladimir Putin on his victory.
In a letter published today the European Commission president wished the Russian president "every success" in his six-year term.
“I have always argued that positive relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation are crucial to the security of our continent," Mr Juncker wrote.
“Our common objective should be to re-establish a cooperative pan-European security order. I hope that you will use your fourth term in office to pursue this goal. I will always be a partner in this endeavour. “
But a spokesman for the Prime Minister pointed to a preliminary report by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which is probing the way the election was conducted.
He said: "They noted that 'choice without a real competition as we have seen in this election unfortunately is not a real choice'. It was a preliminary report, there will be a final report still to come and we won't be commenting in advance of that."
In response to Mr Juncker's message to Mr Putin, Mrs May's spokesman said: "I think the Prime Minister's position has been set out very clearly. I wouldn't have anything further to add.
"What I would point to is the strong response from across the European Union from leaders in condemning what happened in Salisbury and standing in solidarity with the UK."
Asked whether Mrs May agreed with Jeremy Corbyn that Mr Putin was someone he could "do business with", the spokesman said:
"I'd point you to the Prime Minister's words in the House of Commons last week, when she was discussing Russia and she said 'that relations with Russia couldn't be the same going forwards' and she made the point she would be breaking off high-level diplomatic contact."