U. K.‘ SHOULD NOT THREATEN A NUCLEAR POWER’: RUSSIA
Another enemy of Putin found dead in Britain
LONDON• Russia told Britain not to “threaten a nuclear power” in an extraordinary provocative statement Tuesday as the two countries battled over the attempted assassination of a former spy.
Meanwhile, the death of another enemy in London of Russian President Vladimir Putin was the focus of a new investigation by special counterterrorism detectives.
Nikolai Glushkov, 68, the right- hand man of the deceased oligarch Boris Berezovsky — Putin’s once fiercest rival — was found dead Monday in “unexplained” circumstances, said police. A Russian media source said Glushkov, the former boss of the state airline Aeroflot who said he believed he was on a Kremlin hit- list, was found with “strangulation marks” on his neck.
The new investigation comes a day after Britain ordered a review of up to 14 deaths in the country that may have connections to Russia.
Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said, “I will want to satisfy myself that the allegations are nothing more than that.”
Britain gave Russia until midnight Tuesday to explain how a Russian- made nerve agent came to be used in an English city, or face retaliatory measures.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said Russia’s involvement in the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a Russian who spied for Britain, and his 33- yearold daughter, Yulia, was “highly likely.”
But Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, gave a combative television interview saying, “No one can come to parliament and say, ‘ I give Russia 24 hours.’ ”
Zakharova said Britain should not try to scare Russia and pointed to Putin’s recent speech in which he presented a range of new nuclear weapons.
“One should not threaten a nuclear power,” she said, according to some British press reports. The New Scotsman reported her as saying, “Who does Britain think it is, issuing ultimatums to a nuclear power?”
Russia also threatened to retaliate against sanctions, which May is expected to announce Wednesday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that his country’s requests to see samples of the nerve agent have been turned down. He insisted that Russia is “not to blame” for the poisoning.
“We have already made a statement to say this is nonsense,” he said. “We have nothing to do with this.”
But May has gained the support of Western leaders including Donald Trump and German Chencellor Angela Merkel, for reprisals against the Putin regime that will include sanctions and the expulsion of spies based in the Russian embassy in London.
The White House issued a statement saying the U. S. “stands in solidarity with its closest ally” and condemning the use of “heinous weapons in flagrant violation of international norms”.
Suspicions also surround the death of another of Glushkov and Berezovsky’s friends, Badri Patarkatsishvili, 52, a Georgian who died at his home in Surrey of an apparent heart attack in 2008. Andrey Lugovoi, who is blamed for the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko, was at one time Patarkatsishvili’s chauffeur and security adviser to Glushkov. He is now an MP and supporter of Putin.
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, warned Russia not to underestimate British outrage and refused to rule out a retaliatory cyber strike.
James Nixey, head of the Russia program at the Chatham House think- tank, said May’s response must be more than symbolic.
“Will actions meet with responses which have realworld effects?” he said. “Or are we going to have more fudge?”
A residential house in southwest London is sealed off by British police on Tuesday after Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov, a close friend of Putin critic Boris Berezovsky, was found dead late Monday.