Russian President Vladimir Putin at his annual press conference today dismissed spy scandals in the West as aimed at undermining the country's international standing.
Putin cited the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury and last week's conviction of Maria Butina in the United States for acting as an illegal foreign agent.
"If there hadn't been the Skripals, they would have thought up something else. There is only one aim: to hold back Russia's development as a possible competitor," he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)