One victim of the Novichok nerve-agent assassination attempt in Salisbury, UK last month sent greetings to the world earlier today, just as the UN Security Council will meet to discuss the case. Yulia Skripal, the 33-year-old daughter of Russian ex-pat intelligence agent Sergei Skripal, had British police deliver a statement on her behalf. Skripal has been conscious for a week and is regaining her strength, the statement explains — but it contains no comment on the attack that put her and her father in the hospital:
The daughter of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal has made her first official statement since she and her father were poisoned by an alleged Russian nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury last month.
Yulia Skripal said in a statement that her “strength is growing daily” having woken up more than a week ago.
“I am grateful for the interest in me and for the many messages of goodwill that I have received,” the 33-year-old said in the statement released by London’s Metropolitan Police.
This was Skripal’s first intentional public statement, it should be noted. Yesterday, Russian authorities released the tape of a phone conversation between Yulia and her cousin, which … doesn’t appear to say much other than both her and her father are recovering. Cousin Viktoria says she wants to come to the UK to bring Yulia back to Russia, but the phone conversation doesn’t sound as though Yulia is excited by the prospect:
Yulia: Everything’s okay, things will be clear as they develop, there’s just this situation here, you know what kind.
Viktoria: I know.
Yulia: Everything’s good, everything is manageable, everyone’s recovering, everyone’s alive.
Viktoria: Right. Is everything okay with your dad?
Yulia: (slight pause) Everything’s okay, he’s resting now, he’s sleeping. Everyone’s health is okay, no one has any incurable things, I’m getting out soon, everything’s okay.
The British Foreign Office told Reuters today that they had offered to facilitate consular access to the Russian embassy when Yulia Skripal regained consciousness. Thus far, she has yet to request any contact with Russian agents. Russia had accused the UK of stonewalling the embassy:
The Foreign Office statement about consular assistance came shortly after a news conference by Russia’s ambassador to Britain, Alexander Yakovenko, during which he repeatedly said Russia had asked for consular access to Yulia Skripal and had received no response from the British authorities.
“We have conveyed to Ms Skripal the Russian Embassy’s offer of consular assistance. Ms Skripal is now able to choose if and when to take up this offer, but to date she has not done so,” the Foreign Office said.
Russia’s attempts to derail an international investigation into the use of Novichok failed last night, too. Only six members of the 41-nation Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons voted to allow Russia to join their probe, although only 21 voted on the proposal at all (17 abstained). Now Russia wants an open meeting of the UN Security Council today to debate the issue, and the UNSC is set to meet at 3 ET to decide on whether to open it up. They may regret that demand, as the three Western permanent nations are no doubt eager to paint a very detailed picture of Russian aggression and violations of sovereignty. Not that it will matter — both sides have vetoes on any action proposed — but it’ll be nothing more than jaw-jaw at best for Moscow, and at worst a humiliation on an open stage.