Friday, 20 April, 2018

Boris Johnson heads to Brussels to drum up support against Russian Federation

BMW car owned by former Russian spy Sergei Skripal is seen in this Metropolitan Police Handout via Reuters
Delores Daniels | 19 March, 2018, 13:19

British Prime Minister Theresa May alleged the duo was poisoned with a military grade nerved agent developed by Russian Federation.

Moscow never had any programmes to develop the Novichok nerve agent Britain says was used on former double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain, deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said Thursday.

Before leaving the stage to applause, he led the crowd in a chant of "Russia, Russia!"

Moscow retaliated on Saturday by expelling the same number of British diplomats from Moscow, shuttering the British consulate in Russia's second city of St Petersburg and closing down the Russian activities of the British Council, which promoted British culture overseas.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday gave the 23 Russian diplomats - whom she described as undeclared intelligence officers - a week to leave, as she accused the Russian state of being "culpable" for the attack in Salisbury.

On 12 March, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson summoned the Russian Ambassador and asked for an explanation, setting a deadline of midnight the next day for Moscow to respond.

"The British side is warned that in case of further unfriendly actions against Russia, the Russian side reserves the right to take further retaliatory measures", the ministry said.

He also said that Russian Federation has "destroyed all chemical weapons".

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

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

"We have said on different levels and occasions that Russian Federation has nothing to do with this story", he said.

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 global response to the Novichok attack. They remain in critical condition.

Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, who heads up the national counter-terror police network which is leading the Salisbury investigation, appealed for anyone with information about the "despicable" and "appalling" attack to come forward. "Russia does not have such substances, we have destroyed all of our chemical weapons".

He said: "My guess is actually our British friends and partners are afraid - they are afraid that our experts may analyse these samples and they may see some dirty tricks there or something".

"Russia had nothing to do with it", Chizhov told the BBC.

"We actually have evidence within the last 10 years that Russian Federation has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination, but has also been creating and stockpiling Novichok", Johnson told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

The Foreign Secretary's comments were rebuked by Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said: "Any reference or mentioning of our president is nothing else but shocking and unpardonable diplomatic misconduct".

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