Russian FM: Ex-Spy's Poisoning Is A Distraction From Brexit

Apr 04, 2018, 01:16
Russian FM: Ex-Spy's Poisoning Is A Distraction From Brexit

"As the Prime Minister has set out in a number of statements to the Commons since 12 March, this includes our knowledge that within the last decade, Russian Federation has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents - probably for assassination - and as part of this programme has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks".

"We were able to identify it as Novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent", Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down in England, told Sky News.

Russian President Vladimir Putin quickly pointed at Aitkenhead's statement as evidence that British accusations of Russian involvement were unfounded.

Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the poisoning, with Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova last week accusing the United Kingdom government of seeking to "bring about a totally absurd situation".

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow wants a thorough probe into the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain and will demand to be part of it.

Putin said the type of the nerve agent used in the March 4 poisoning could be made in some 20 nations.

Britain has said it is "highly likely" that Moscow was responsible for an attempt to poison former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the quiet English city of Salisbury on Mar 4.

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Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow expects an apology.

He said: "Many say that the situation now is worse than it was during the Cold War because some rules existed and decorum was observed back then".

Without providing any proof, London expelled 23 Russian diplomats and suspended all planned high-level bilateral contacts.

"As for the other countries, everything will also be symmetrical in terms of the number of people from their diplomatic missions who will be leaving Russian Federation, and for now that's pretty much it", said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

He added that determining the nerve agent's origin required "other inputs", some intelligence-based, which the British government has access to.

Moscow has rejected those claims, saying that it never produced the agent dubbed Novichok in the West and completed the destruction of its Soviet-era chemical weapons stockpiles a year ago under global oversight.

The senior Russian Government official urged the Dublin authorities to use common sense.

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The admission is likely to be seized on by Russian Federation which has suggested that the nerve agent could have come from other nations, or from Porton Down, which is eight miles from Salisbury, the scene of the attack. We are regularly audited by the OPCW to make sure we are operating within those controls.

Her father remained in a critical but stable condition.

Sergei Skripal - who settled in Britain after a 2010 spy swap - remains critically ill in hospital.

"As the Prime Minister has said, we must face the facts, and the challenge of Russian Federation is one that will endure for years to come".

In a letter dated last Thursday, Russia's ambassador to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin asked for the meeting to discuss the British allegations "in a confidential sitting".

Zakharova told reporters in Moscow that Britain is breaking worldwide law by refusing to provide information on the case.

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