Britain: Russia “highly likely” behind ex-spy assassination bid

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday it was “highly likely” Moscow was behind assassination attempt of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury last week.

May, address House of Commons, said the chemical substance used in the attack against Skripal and Yulia was identified as one of the group of nerve agents known as Novichok, and was developed in Russia.

“Either this was a direct action by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others,” she said.

The Foreign Office summoned Russia’s ambassador to provide an explanation.

May said if there is no “credible response” by end of Tuesday, Britain would conclude there has been an “unlawful use of force” by Moscow.

She said Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had told the ambassador Moscow must provide “full and complete disclosure” of the Novichok program to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Skripal, the 66-year-old retired military intelligence officer, and Yulia, 33, were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury city centre on March 4. They remain in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

Skripal was sentenced for 13 years in 2004 after he was convicted of spying for the British secret service. He was released in 2006 in a spy exchange deal with Britain, where he was granted a political asylum.

A spokesman of the Russian Embassy in London commented on May statement and said the British government was “playing a very dangerous game.” The spokesman warned against long-term consequences on relations between the two countries.

He said the Russian government was upset at the British anti-Moscow media campaign.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova dismissed May’s accusations, describing them as “mere fabrications.”

Source: Kuwait News Agency