Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has strongly rejected the UK’s accusation that Moscow was behind the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain, saying his respective country “is not guilty” in the incident.
The Russian top diplomat made the remarks at a press conference on Tuesday, nine days after British authorities announced that former double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, had been hospitalized since they had been found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in the city of Salisbury.
On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said a chemical weapon purportedly developed under a clandestine Soviet program, dubbed Novichok, had been used in the poisoning of the agent and his daughter, demanding that Moscow provide details of the so-called program.
She further told the parliament it was “highly likely” that Moscow was behind the poisoning, giving the Kremlin until the end of Tuesday to answer the accusations. May further warned that otherwise London would consider the poisoning an attack directed by the Russian government.
She also told the House of Commons that the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, had already summoned the Russian ambassador in London to convey the British demand to Moscow.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Lavrov said that Moscow would not respond to the British request about the so-called Soviet chemical weapon purportedly used against the agent and her daughter until a sample of the agent is provided. London has so far failed to meet Moscow’s demand.
“As soon as the rumors came up that the poisoning of Skripal involved a Russia-produced agent, which almost the entire English leadership has been fanning up, we sent an official request for access to this compound so that our experts could analyze it in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC],” Lavrov said, adding that Russia’s request has been ignored by the British side.
The minister further affirmed that Russia had nothing to do with the poisoning of the two, but expressed Moscow’s readiness in assisting Britain in the investigation, provided that London meets its own obligations as to how such probes are to be handled.
The UK hypothesis is that Moscow was either directly responsible for the poisoning, or had lost possession of the chemical weapon that was used.
Meanwhile, Russia summoned the British ambassador in Moscow over the accusations, having earlier described them as “a circus show” to undermine its hosting of this summer’s football World Cup.
Both Skripal and his daughter remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition, according to a Reuters report. Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey has also fallen ill because of contact with the substance while investigating the incident.
Vil Mirzayanov, a chemist who worked on the Novichok program and now lives in the US, was quoted as saying that the nerve agent’s effects were “brutal.”
“These people, the man and his daughter, are gone. Even if they survive, they will not recover,” he was quoted as saying.
Emergency personnel, dressed in biohazard suits, have already been dispatched to Salisbury, while around 500 people, who might have come into minimal contact with the chemical agent, were strongly urged to wash clothes and personal belongings as a precaution.