Russia says 'not guilty' of spy poisoning in UK

World | 14 Mar 2018

Moscow on Tuesday denied it was behind the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain as a midnight deadline loomed to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used in the attack.

"Russia is not guilty", said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in an English city on March 4.

The United States, NATO and the European Union have all backed Britain in the deepening diplomatic crisis.

Lavrov added that Russia was "ready to cooperate", but said Britain had rejected its requests for "access" to the nerve agent samples.

British Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament it was "highly likely" Russia was behind the poisoning, giving Moscow until the end of Tuesday to answer the accusations.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the attack was the "first use of nerve agent on the continent of Europe since the end of the Second World War". He vowed that Britain's response if it concludes Russia was responsible would be "commensurate."

May has said that her government was considering a British version of the US "Magnitsky Act," which was adopted in 2012 to punish Russian officials accused of human rights violations.

Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, remain in a critical condition in hospital after being found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in the southwestern city of Salisbury.

Agence France-Presse

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