UK: Trail to Spy's Poisoning 'Leads Inexorably to Kremlin'

Russian ambassador to UK says situation is 'escalating dangerously and out of proportion'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 18, 2018 7:34 AM CDT
UK: Trail to Spy's Poisoning 'Leads Inexorably to Kremlin'
People walk past the British Consulate General in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, March 17, 2018. Russia on Saturday announced it is expelling 23 British diplomats and threatened further measures in retaliation in a growing diplomatic dispute over a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain.   (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Britain's foreign secretary said Sunday that the trail of blame for the poisoning of a former spy "leads inexorably to the Kremlin," reports the AP, after a Russian envoy suggested the nerve agent could have come from a UK lab. "We actually have evidence within the last 10 years that Russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination but has also been creating and stockpiling Novichok," Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tells the BBC. "We think it overwhelmingly likely that it was (Vladimir Putin's) decision to direct the use of a nerve agent ... on the streets of Europe for the first time since the Second World War." Johnson said officials from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would arrive in Britain on Monday to take samples of the nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Britain says it is Novichok, a powerful nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War.

Vladimir Chizhov, Moscow's EU ambassador, said Russia has no chemical weapons stockpiles and was not behind the poisoning. "Russia had nothing to do with it," Chizhov told the BBC. Chizhov pointed out that the UK chemical weapons research facility, Porton Down, is only eight miles from Salisbury, where the Skripals were found March 4. They remain in critical condition. Asked whether he was saying Porton Down was responsible, Chizhov replied: "I don't know." The British government dismissed the ambassador's suggestion as "nonsense." Johnson said it was "not the response of a country that really believed itself to be innocent." Russia's ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, called for "cooler heads," telling the Mail on Sunday that the dispute is "escalating dangerously and out of proportion." Britain and Russia have each expelled 23 diplomats.

(More Sergei Skripal stories.)

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