Russia intel chief warns of new Cold War amid poisoning probe

April 4 (UPI) — The head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service on Wednesday used the dystopian novel 1984 to describe the diplomatic situation that’s come from the poisoning attack on a former Kremlin spy last month.

Sergei Naryshkin accused British and U.S. intelligence agencies and other European countries of “grotesque provocation” in the aftermath of the nerve agent attack against former spy Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter in Britain March 4.

Relations between Moscow and Western nations have deteriorated since the poisoning. U.S. and British officials have said the Russian government was behind the poisoning, but the Kremlin has denied any involvement.

Speaking Wednesday at a security conference, Naryshkin said the West has resorted to “unprecedented hypocrisy to justify their hegemony,” and added that Western countries were ready to erect a new “Iron Curtain.”

“In fact, all the norms that regulate intergovernmental relations are given precisely the opposite meanings,” Naryshkin said, before citing Orwell in saying, “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.”

“Countering the inexistent Russian threat has become fixation in Washington. It’s grown to such a scale and has acquired such silly features that we can speak about a return to the dark pages of the Cold War.”

The European Union said Wednesday Russia must cooperate with an investigation into the attack by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons .

“It is imperative that the Russian Federation responds to the British government’s legitimate questions, begins to cooperate with the OPCW secretariat, and provides full and complete disclosure to the OPCW,” the EU said in an emergency meeting Wednesday.

Russia had called Wednesday’s meeting to challenge the way British scientists handled samples of the military-grade nerve agent — identified as Novichok.

Moscow has said it won’t accept any international scientific findings unless its own scientists are involved in the testing.

The British delegation for OPCW called the proposal for a joint investigation “perverse.”

“It is a diversionary tactic, and yet more disinformation designed to evade the questions the Russian authorities must answer,” the delegation said on Twitter.

The tensions follow a mass expulsion of Russian and Western diplomats from their respective posts. The U.S. government closed the Russian consulate in Seattle and expelled 60 Moscow diplomats on March 26, which was followed by Russia ousting the same number of American representatives.