Downing Street launches furious attack on Vladimir Putin's record as war of words intensifies
Downing Street launched a furious attack on the record of Vladimir Putin's government today as relations between Britain and Russia deteriorated even further.
In an outspoken assault, the Prime Minister's official spokeswoman criticised Russia's economic performance, its actions in Syria and its record on promoting free speech.
Her comments came a day after Boris Johnson accused the Kremlin of being "up to all sorts of very dirty tricks, such as cyber-warfare" against the West.
The Russian embassy in the UK used its Twitter account to hit back at the Foreign Secretary this morning.
Speaking after Prime Minister's Questions, Theresa May's spokeswoman said: "If you want to look at the record of the UK government in recent years and make comparisons with the Russians you might think about negative economic growth in Russia and the UK being one of the fastest growing economies in the world; how many times the UK consistently advanced and supported UN Security Council resolutions on Syria, I think Russia was meanwhile vetoing them; the fact that we have freedom of expression and a free press in the UK who choose what they report.
"Those are just the realities of the UK government versus Russia."
Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Mr Johnson said he had warned Donald Trump's team in Washington about the threat posed by the Putin regime - but insisted Britain and America should not try to "demonise" Russia.
"The point that we have made to the incoming administration, and indeed on Capitol Hill, is just this: as I said earlier, we do think that the Russian state - the Putin Kremlin - is up to all sorts of very dirty tricks, such as cyber-warfare," he said.
Russia's embassy in London accused the UK government of launching an "anti-Russian witch hunt".
It said “western elites will go to great lengths to save their own world” and that “British special services are all too willing to oblige”.
A spokesperson said: “We don’t expect HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] to win this argument in an open and reasoned debate.
“We also think that it is plainly wrong for one UNSC permanent member to brief against another.”