Russia responds to Putin-Hitler comparison: 'Nobody has the right to insult the Russian people who defeated Nazism'

Russia has denounced Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s admission that Vladimir Putin will use this summer’s World Cup like Adolf Hitler did in the 1936 Olympics as propaganda for his regime.

Russian Ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko said: "The British government is free to make a decision about its participation in the World Cup but nobody has the right to insult the Russian people who defeated Nazism and lost more than 25 million people by comparing our country to Nazi Germany.

"That goes beyond common sense and we don’t think British war veterans including those of the Arctic convoys would share this opinion."

President Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov earlier described the comparison as an "utterly disgusting statement which is unworthy of a foreign minister of any country."

Peskov judged Mr Johnson’s words as "insulting and unacceptable".

It marks an escalation in the war of words exchanged between Moscow and London in the wake of the poisoned former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.

Britain has accused Russia of using a military grade nerve agent which the Kremlin has fiercely denied.

Prime Minister Theresa May said in Brussels on Thursday: "It is clear that the Russian threat doesn't respect borders and indeed the incident is Salisbury was part of a pattern of Russian aggression against Europe and its near neighbours from the western Balkans to the Near East."

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite has announced she is considering expelling Russian diplomats over the attack.

Giving evidence at the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Mr Johnson agreed with Labour’s Ian Austin who said the Russian president would use the occasion as a propaganda exercise, comparing it to the notorious pre-war Berlin Games.

Mr Johnson described the idea of Putin "glorying in this sporting event" as "an emetic prospect" saying "I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right."