Russian spy: Poisoning response deadline set by UK passes

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London, March 14 (IANS) The deadline set by the UK government for Moscow to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used to poison a former double agent has passed.

Focus now shifts to what steps Theresa May will take against Russia following the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, BBC reported on Tuesday.

Russia denies involvement in their poisoning and has demanded access to a sample of the substance used.

It said the UK’s threat of “punitive” measures would “meet with a response”.

Downing Street says the Prime Minister has received the backing of US President Donald Trump, who agreed in a phone call that Moscow “must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used”.

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A spokesman also said France’s President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – Baltic states bordering Russia – have all condemned the attack and offered support to the UK.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said if the attack was shown to be a “direct act” by the Russian state it would be a “clear violation of the chemical weapons convention, a breach of international law and a threat to those who abide by the rules-based international order”.

The Foreign Office is set to brief a session of the North Atlantic Council – Nato’s political decision-making body – on the Skripal incident later.

The UK government has not publicly disclosed the measures it is considering against Moscow.

But ahead of the expiry of the deadline, Russia’s UK embassy posted a series of tweets saying it would not issue a response without being given access to samples of the nerve agent.

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It also contended international obligations required a joint investigation take place into the incident.

Another tweet said it had sought an “explanation” from the Foreign Office, amid speculation the UK could mount a cyber-attack, as it “takes a serious view on cyber security breaches”.

Moscow has already threatened to expel British media outlets from Russia if the Kremlin-funded TV channel RT is stripped of its licence to broadcast in the UK.

Britain could expel Russian diplomats, as it did after the poisoning of former Russian Federal Security Service operative Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 with radioactive polonium.

–IANS

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