Published: Sun, March 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

United Kingdom holds high-level meeting on poisoning of ex-Russian spy

United Kingdom holds high-level meeting on poisoning of ex-Russian spy

The Russian spy's daughter who was caught up in a poisoning attack in Salisbury had "not done anything to deserve" her illness, her friend has said.

Britain will respond appropriately if evidence shows Moscow was behind a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in England, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal are both in a serious condition in hospital, after being exposed to a nerve agent, and becoming unwell in a park in Salisbury last week.

Around 180 troops, including chemical warfare experts, have been deployed in the city after investigators requested specialist assistance.

The military will help clear up the centre of the southern city of Salisbury, where areas remain cordoned off following the discovery of the stricken Russian, Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia on Sunday afternoon.

"This was attempted murder in the most cruel and public way", Ms Rudd told parliament in a statement.

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood said the military's presence reflected the "seriousness" of the situation, adding: "We mustn't get ahead of ourselves but we must have a robust response and it's something that we'll be discussing with our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners and with the forthcoming summit in Brussels in July".

Meanwhile, Russia's foreign minister expressed resentment at suggestions Moscow was behind the attack and said the Kremlin was "ready to consider" lending a hand in any investigation, "whether it's [about] poisoning of some British subjects, whether it's rumors about interference in the USA election campaign".

Officers also sealed off the gravestone of Mr Skripal's wife Liudmila, who was buried there in 2012.

Identifying the source of the nerve agent continues to be central to the probe but so far, Rudd has refused to name any potential culprits.

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Acting Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, Kier Pritchard, said he had been to visit DS Bailey.

Moscow has reacted angrily to the accusations it was involved, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday dismissing them as baseless "propaganda".

Nick Bailey was one of the first officers to come to the house after their collapse, and it's where he may have been poisoned himself.

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised an "appropriate" response if it is discovered that Russian Federation is responsible for poisoning Skripal, but has urged caution.

Earlier this week, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in London described comments by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - who vowed a "robust response" in the event that state involvement was proved - as "strongly anti-Russian".

Britain has said it will respond robustly if evidence shows Russian Federation was behind the Salisbury poisoning.

British police have previously said they knew which exact nerve agent was used against Skripal and his daughter, but they have not made that information public.

Known as the spy with the Louis Vuitton bag, Mr Skripal was a KGB veteran who was convicted in Russian Federation for spying for the British intelligence agency MI6 in 2006. It is expected that it could provide the government, and the poisoning was an assassination attempt.

"Once these are established, then, and only then, will an appropriate and proportionate course of action be taken".

A British public inquiry found that Putin had probably ordered Litvinenko's murder.

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