Russia calls Britain’s poisoning allegations ‘nonsense’
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.
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.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said Russia’s 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.
U. S. and European officials were quick to offer words of support for Britain, which will need the backing of its allies if any new sanctions are to have any impact.
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.”
They also agreed on the need for “consequences” for those who use “heinous weapons in flagrant violation of international norms,” the White House said.
Earlier, Trump had said: “It sounds to me that they believe it was Russia, and I would certainly take that finding as fact.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country’s requests to see samples of the nerve agent had been turned down. He insisted Russia is “not to blame” for the poisoning.
The Russian Embassy in London tweeted that it will not respond to the ultimatum without the samples.