Britain's claim Putin ordered ex-spy poisoning 'unforgiveable'

18 March, 2018, 02:00 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been banned from taking part in the 2018 election

"Our quarrel is with Putin's Kremlin, and with his decision - and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision - to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the United Kingdom, on the streets of Europe for the first time since the Second World War".

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov immediately shot back, saying that bringing up Putin in the context of the case was "shocking and unforgivable in terms of diplomatic behavior".

Britain has expelled 23 Russian diplomats and suspended high-level contacts with Moscow due to the incident.

It comes as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has written in the Guardian warning against "hasty judgements", and not to "rush ahead of the evidence".

Sergei Skripal moved to Salisbury after being jailed for passing Russian state secrets to British intelligence while working for the Russian government in the 1990s. Later Friday, Russia's Investigative Committee announced it was opening a criminal investigation into the attempted murder of the younger Skripal.

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U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said it's "highly likely" the Kremlin is responsible for the March 4 attack against Skripal and his daughter. "This use of chemical weapons is a clear violation of the worldwide law", he said.

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Russian Federation has repeatedly dismissed the UK's accusations as "unfounded" and warned it would retaliate soon over the expulsion of its diplomats.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russia will kick out British diplomats in a worsening standoff over a nerve agent attack, but still isn't saying when or how many.

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Britain says the Russian state is behind the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury. "It threatens the security of us all", the statement said.

The source of the nerve agent used - which Britain says is Soviet-made Novichok - is unclear.

In a rare joint statement, the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and the USA on Thursday condemned the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia as an "assault on United Kingdom sovereignty".

Lavrov said Russian Federation will "of course" expel British diplomats and that he hopes the Skripals recover soon so light can be shed on what happened.

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