World News

Putin demands inquiry into Salisbury nerve agent attack

Putin demands inquiry into Salisbury nerve agent attack

Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Porton Down defence laboratory, told Britain's Sky News that analysts had identified the substance as military-grade Novichok, the word used for a category of nerve agents developed in Soviet times.

Asked about his scientists' findings, Mr Aitkenhead said: "We were able to identify it as Novichok, to identify it was a military-grade nerve agent".

The British government has said the only plausible explanation was that it came from Russian Federation and blamed Russian Federation for the attack on the former double agent and his adult daughter.

Given the lack of precise information about the nerve agent's origin, he lamented "the speed at which the anti-Russian campaign has been launched", adding that it "causes bewilderment".

His boss, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, floated another possible motive on Monday: that the United Kingdom could have carried out the poisonings to distract from Brexit.

"This includes our knowledge that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents probably for assassination - and as part of this programme has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichok; Russia's record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views former intelligence officers as targets", he added.

Former double agent Sergei Skripal, who has lived in Britain since a spy swap in 2010, and his daughter Yulia have been in hospital since March 4 after the poisoning that London and its major Western allies have blamed on Russian Federation.

"Russia is interested in establishing the whole truth of the matter and we hope certainly that this meeting will help to return to at least the realm of normality within the realm of worldwide law and.decency in global relations".

"We were able to identify it as Novichok", he said.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow expects an apology.

So far 29 nations have expelled diplomats over the poisoning, which the British government holds Russian Federation responsible for.

More news: More than 1000 companies yet to submit figures on gender pay gap

Earlier on Tuesday, deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko said, in comments relayed by Russian news agencies, that the Skripals' poisoning was a "provocation arranged by Britain" in order to justify high military spending because "they need a major enemy".

"There is no way anything like that could have come from us or left the four walls of our facility", he said.

"We deal with a number of very toxic substances as part of the work that we do".

"We've got the highest levels of security and controls".

The UK government will continue to tell lies and prevaricate over the Skripal case the way they did on many occasions in the past, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said on her Facebook page on Tuesday.

Yuri Filatov claimed that the British authorities have questions to answer, alleging: "If they choose to ignore them, there is ample ground to assume that we're dealing with a grand-scale provocation organised by London with the aim to discredit Russian Federation".

Mr Aitkenhead's comments come a day ahead of an extraordinary meeting in The Hague of the executive council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to discuss the Salisbury attack.

Skripal, 66, a former Russian intelligence agent convicted of spying for Britain, remains in critical condition.

Britain's Foreign Office said the Moscow-requested OPCW meeting was a "diversionary tactic, meant to undermine the work of the OPCW in reaching a conclusion" about the nerve agent attack.

The UK government has said it is looking into the legality of the request and also considering "the rights and wishes" of the 33-year-old.


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