MOSCOW - UK Ambassador in Moscow Laurie Bristow has wished Russian people a Happy New Year in a special video address in the Russian language, during which he pledged to try to turn challenges in bilateral relations into new opportunities in the upcoming year.

“We want our relations with Russia to be based on cooperation and mutual respect. Next year, new challenges will await us, and we will try to turn them into new opportunities — opportunities to develop new partnerships and strengthen the existing ties between the peoples of Russia and the United Kingdom”, Bristow said in a video address, posted on the embassy’s Twitter page.

Bristow recalled that the outgoing year was “not easy for political relations” of the two countries.

He, however, noted that the United Kingdom and Russia had much in common in terms of traditions, history and culture.

He also recalled that dozens of thousands of UK football fans visited Russia during the FIFA World Cup 2018, and added that the two countries also managed to strengthen ties between educational and cultural institutions, as well young scientists in the outgoing year. At the end of his speech, the ambassador wished all Russian people a Happy New Year.

Russian-UK relations significantly deteriorated in March over the attempted poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The United Kingdom accused Moscow of being involved in the attack and urged the West to express solidarity, which resulted in the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the majority of Western countries and a new round of anti-Moscow sanctions.

In July, London has also put blame on Russia for the poisoning of two people in the city of Amesbury, who were allegedly exposed to the same nerve agent that was used in Salisbury.

Moscow has denied all the accusations, saying that the Skripal case was falling apart due to the lack of evidence proving the purported Russian involvement. The Russian Foreign Ministry has sent dozens of diplomatic notes to the UK Foreign Office demanding that Russia be given access to the investigation and the Skripals, who have Russian citizenship, as well as proposing legal assistance and cooperation, including in a joint inquiry. The UK authorities have not responded to the requests for cooperation.