Just before ouster, Rex Tillerson diverged from White House by saying poison used on an ex-spy in the UK came from …

Just before ouster, Rex Tillerson diverged from White House by saying poison used on an ex-spy in the UK \came from ...
May wins backing of Trump, EU leaders in showdown with Russia
MOSCOW — Russia vowed Tuesday to retaliate if Britain imposes sanctions in response to a chemical attack on British soil and demanded access to samples of a nerve agent that British investigators say they have identified as Russian.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said Russia does not intend to comply with British Prime Minister Theresa Mays demand Monday for an official explanation of how a nerve agent identified as Novichok, which was developed by the former Soviet Union, allegedly came to be used in the poisoning attack in southern England that targeted a former Russian spy and his adult daughter.

The case was complicated by the confirmation on Tuesday that an associate of a prominent former critic of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was found dead in London. Nikolai Glushkov, a friend of the critic, Boris Berezovsky, was found by the police on Monday evening. His death was announced by another associate of Mr. Berezovsky, the media entrepreneur Damian Kudryavtsev. British police said that the cause of death was unclear, but that counter terrorism officers were investigating.

Lavrov insisted that Russian experts should be able to examine the British evidence but again denied Russian involvement in last weeks attack.

Earlier, United States Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson described the poisoning as an egregious act, and said it was almost beyond comprehension that a state, an organized state, would do something like that. European politicians, including the French interior minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian; and Valdis Dombrovskis, a European Commission vice president, have also voiced concern, with Mr. Dombrovskis saying Britain can count on E.U. solidarity.

There has, however, been a history of Russian emigres dying in murky and sometimes not-so-murky circumstances in Britain.

His remarks came the day after Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain said it was highly likely that Russia was behind the poisoning of the former spy, Sergei V. Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, this month. Britain has given Russia until the end of Tuesday to explain itself, but Moscow has consistently insisted it had nothing to do with the attack in the cathedral city of Salisbury, England, where the pair were found incoherent on a park bench.
May wins backing of Trump, EU leaders in showdown with Russia
May wins backing of Trump, EU leaders in showdown with Russia

And in the midst of the controversy over the chemical attack, British counterterrorism police said Tuesday they are investigating the unexplained death of another Russian national, Nikolai Glushkov, 68, in London. His body was found Monday, and police said they see no connection between the cases.

Mr. Skripal, 66, and his daughter, 33, remained in critical condition in a hospital on Tuesday, more than a week after the poisoning. He had been working for Russian military intelligence before becoming a double agent for Britain. When he was found out, he was sent to a Russian prison. In 2010, he was freed and sent to Britain in a spy swap.
Russia Dismisses UKs Accusation Over Spys Poisoning
Russia Dismisses UKs Accusation Over Spys Poisoning

Glushkov had been an associate of the oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who had fallen afoul of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and lived in exile in Britain until his death by strangulation in 2013.

It is extremely worrying that chemical agents are still being used to harm people, Ahmet Uzumcu, the director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said in a statement. Those found responsible for this use must be held accountable for their actions.
Cotton: Russia will lie and deny about British spy poisoning
Cotton: Russia will lie and deny about British spy poisoning

Britains May gets EU support, cautious backing from Trump, in showdown with Russia

May spoke Tuesday afternoon with President Trump about the assault on the former spy, Sergei Skripal. She told him it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack, according to a statement released by the British Embassy.

The latest row comes at a particularly difficult time, with Russia in the spotlight for its role in the United States presidential election, and just months before Russia hosts the soccer World Cup, a major event the country had hoped would paint it in a positive light.

President Trump stated the United States stands in solidarity with its closest ally and is ready to provide any assistance the United Kingdom requests for its investigation, the White House stated. President Trump agreed with Prime Minister May that the government of the Russian Federation must provide unambiguous answers regarding how this chemical weapon, developed in Russia, came to be used in the United Kingdom.

Were speaking with Theresa May today, and as soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be, Trump said when asked about it by reporters outside the White House. It sounds to me like it would be Russia based on all of the evidence they have.

An array of foreign leaders and officials have sounded alarm bells over the nerve-agent attack, which Britain has said was carried out using what is known as a novichok, a class of toxins first produced by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking en route to Washington from Africa on Monday evening, said the nerve agent clearly came from Russia, and he warned of consequences. Hours after Tillerson backed the British accusation, the White House announced Tuesday that he would be replaced as secretary of state by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

“It is very important that people understand the gravity of what has happened and the outrage that the British government feels about the use of nerve agents, use of chemical weapons, against innocent members of the public, against an innocent police officer, on UK soil. We will make sure that our response is, as I told the House last week, commensurate but robust.”

Video: Trump says US will condemn Russia if found to be behind Skripal poisoning

In Moscow, the Foreign Ministry said it presented the British ambassador with a strong protest over the unfounded accusations leveled at Russia by British authorities and stressed that Moscow would not respond to Londons ultimatum until the Russian side is provided with samples of the chemical substance.

Skripal and his daughter were attacked more than 10 years after he was arrested and charged with working undercover for Britains MI6. He was freed in 2010 and allowed to move to the U.K., benefiting from a prisoner swap. He is now a U.K. citizen; he and his daughter remain in critical condition after being poisoned in the historic city of Salisbury, England.

Video: Theresa May: Skripal poisoning highly likely by Russia | Al Jazeera English

And it promised that Russia would retaliate if sanctions are imposed. Any threats will not remain unanswered, the ministry said in a statement. The British side should be aware of that.

Trump: It sounds to me like Russia was behind UK nerve agent attack

May said the use of Novichok, which is believed to be unique to Russia, pointed to Moscows complicity in the poisoning of Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his daughter in Salisbury, about 90 miles southwest of London. Both remain comatose.

Reiterating British Prime Minister Theresa Mays statement that it was “highly likely” Russia was to blame for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, Johnson said, “the use of this nerve agent would represent the first use of nerve agents on the continent of Europe since the Second World War.”

In Moscow, Lavrov denied that Russia had anything to do with Skripals poisoning and reiterated Moscows willingness to cooperate if information related to the nature of the chemical agent was shared with Russia.

Johnson also said Britains allies had given their support. He said that on Monday night, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “made it very clear that he sees this as part of a pack of increasingly disruptive behavior by Russia – the reckless use of chemical weapons that stretches from Syria to the streets of Salisbury.”

Video: UK gives Russia until end of Tuesday to explain spy poisoning

[What a brave Russian scientist told me about the Novichok nerve agent]

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Tuesday that Russia has “until midnight tonight” to explain how a lethal Novichok nerve agent that was developed in Russia came to be used on U.K. soil. Johnson said Britain is preparing to take “commensurate but robust” action.

Lavrov said Britain has an obligation to share forensic data under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Before delivering ultimatums to report to the British government within 24 hours, Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow, it is better to comply with your own obligations under international law — in this case, the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Russias representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Alexander Shulgin, told a meeting of the groups executive board Tuesday that Londons allegations of Russian involvement were unfounded and unacceptable, the Interfax news agency reported. He called on Britain to turn over samples to the organization for independent laboratory analysis.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Russias involvement is highly likely, and she gave the country a deadline of midnight Tuesday to explain its actions in the case. She is reviewing a range of economic and diplomatic measures in retaliation for the assault with what she identified as the military-grade nerve agent Novichok.

Russia or whoever it may be. Trump not convinced Putin is behind ex-spys poisoning in Britain

His British counterpart, Peter Wilson, said investigators had concluded that Russia was responsible based on a positive identification of the chemical agents, a history that links Novichok to Russia, Russias record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations and a British assessment that Russia considers some defectors to be legitimate targets for assassination.

Johnson also spoke with his French and German counterparts and to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as Britain sought Tuesday to rally international support. A statement from his office said British officials would brief NATOs political decision-making arm, the North Atlantic Council, on Wednesday.

This attempted murder, using a weapons-grade nerve agent in a British city, was not just a crime against the Skripals. It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom, which put the lives of innocent civilians at risk, Wilson said.

Police, meanwhile, said the investigation of who poisoned Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, will last many weeks and that they are not ready to identify any persons of interest in the inquiry. The father and daughter remain in critical condition in a Salisbury hospital.

Russia, he said, had either engaged in a direct attack against Britain or lost control of the nerve agent it developed.

LONDON — Russia on Tuesday dismissed accusations of any involvement in the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter as nonsense, saying it will only cooperate with a British investigation if it receives samples of the nerve agent believed to have been used.

May had given Russia one day to provide an explanation. She promised to return to Parliament on Wednesday with a plan for specific action.

Her Downing Street office said she discussed the Salisbury incident with U.S. President Donald Trump, and that the U.S. was with the U.K. all the way in agreeing that Russia must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used.

in her remarks, May described a reckless and indiscriminate attack against Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33. A police officer also remains hospitalized.

On the Russian Foreign Ministrys verified Twitter account, the posts carried a characteristically flippant and sarcastic tone. It launched a hashtag, #HighlyLikelyRussia, and portrayed Mays ultimatum as part of broader anti-Russian hysteria plaguing Western discourse.

In a speech Tuesday to the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called him Monday evening to inform him of the results of investigations.

Sincere thanks to Mrs. May for #HighlyLikelyRussia, a tweet read. The post included a video of recent intense snowfall in Britain, mockingly suggesting that Russia was to blame for the weather. The video concludes with an image of a penguin, and signs off with at least penguin enjoys it.

Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer, was convicted of spying for Britain and then released in a spy swap. He had been living under his own name in Salisbury for eight years before the attack without attracting any public attention.

Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Federation Council, Russias upper chamber of parliament, wrote on Facebook that Mays accusations were despicable and unacceptable.

For Britain, the Queen of Courts, this is a complete degradation, Kosachev wrote. The accused has to provide the proof, not the court or the prosecutor, without being given access either to the evidence or the trial itself.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament, asserted that the British allegations were part of a planned effort to interfere in Sundays Russian presidential election.

It is during this period that these events unfold in order to try to discredit Russia in the eyes [of] the international community, in order to create this unfavorable background in the conduct of the election campaign, he said, according to Interfax. Citing this interference in our elections, he added: The form chosen is the most cynical, when the health of citizens is put at risk. . . . Once again I want to say that Britain is responsible for this.

Russia faces Tuesday deadline to explain poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal

His counterpart in the Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, echoed his words.

In Russia, a very important political campaign is underway on preparing for the presidential election, Matviyenko said. This is another fake aimed at whipping up another round of the Russophobic campaign.

While most of the reactions have so far avoided the topic of Novichok, the nerve agent, other members of Russias Federation Council addressed the accusations head-on.

Council member Igor Morozov, a veteran of the Russian security services, told the RIA Novosti news agency that Russia has not only stopped producing nerve agents, including Novichok, but also completely destroyed all of its stockpiles.

However, he also said it would be dangerous but possible to secretly produce Novichok, although that would require special facilities and technicians.

Last year, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced the destruction of Russias final batch of declared chemical weapons. However, Russian scientists who blew the whistle on Novichoks existence in 1992 claimed at the time that the nerve agent was designed specifically to skirt chemical weapons conventions.

The long, terrifying history of Russian dissidents being poisoned abroad

Even if a Russian hit on British soil is confirmed, what can London do about it?

Putin says he wishes the Soviet Union had not collapsed. Many Russians agree.

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