Claims Russia behind Salisbury spy poisoning "nonsense", says Putin

Claims Russia behind Salisbury spy poisoning

Claims Russia behind Salisbury spy poisoning "nonsense", says Putin

The attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury was highlighted by the US Treasury as one of the justifications for the tougher line against Moscow.

"But we will always do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies, and our values against an attack of this sort, which is an attack not only on the United Kingdom, but upon the worldwide rules-based system, on which all countries, all countries including Russian Federation, depend for their safety and security".

The Foreign Office said that there was no meaningful response. We would never do this ahead of a presidential election and the World Cup but we are ready to co-operate'.

Speaking after winning a fourth term as leader, he insisted Russian Federation had destroyed all of its chemical weapons, adding it was "nonsense" to implicate his government in the attack on 4 March.

They were invited by the Government last week to verify analysis of the nerve agent used in the 4 March attack in Salisbury.

Johnson is expected to brief his European Union counterparts on the case at a meeting of foreign ministers and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Monday.

"These will then be despatched to highly-reputable worldwide laboratories selected by the OPCW for testing with results expected to take a minimum of two weeks", Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement.

Sergei Skripal, 66 and Yulia Skripal, 33, remain critically ill in hospital.

They have renewed their appeal for sightings of Mr Skripal's burgundy BMW 320D saloon auto, registration HD09 WAO, in Salisbury on the morning of 4 March.

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Sweden and the Czech Republic denied Russian suggestions they may have been the source of the nerve agent.

Johnson also said he had been heartened by strong expressions of support from the United States and other allies - although it remains unclear whether there will be a coordinated worldwide response to the Novichok attack.

Officers said they were "making good progress in what is a painstaking investigation that is likely to be ongoing for weeks, if not months".

Putin on Sunday referred to the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter as a "tragedy", but added that if the British claim that they were poisoned by the Soviet-designed nerve agent were true, the victims would have died instantly.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson claimed to have evidence that Russian Federation, for over 10 years, stockpiled the nerve agent that was used to attack a former spy and his daughter on March 4.

Britain last week expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the incident, to which Moscow responded in a tit-for-tat expulsion as well as announcing that it would halt the activities of the British Council, Britain's worldwide organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.

The ministry also declared it was closing the British Consulate General in St. Petersburg and the British Council in Russian Federation, in a step beyond the measures taken by Britain.

Asked whether Moscow would expel United Kingdom diplomats, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said: "Of course we will".

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Salisbury incident is "highly likely" to have been a state execution, and President Putin "is responsible" for the attack whether directly or through negligence.

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