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UPDATE SIDEBAR Senior Russian diplomat accuses US and Britain in spy poisoning

Europe
17.03.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Moscow (dpa) - A senior Russian diplomat has accused Western countries of involvement in the nerve-agent attack on a former double agent on British soil.

Alexander Shulgin, who is also Russia‘s representative at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said it was "highly probable" that the poison used in the southern English city of Salisbury had been developed in a Western laboratory.

"So as not to beat around the bush, I will name these countries directly: they are above all the UK itself and the United States," said Shulgin, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

Shulgin claimed that Western intelligence agencies had recruited Russian chemists in the 1990s, who would have had knowledge of materials developed during the Soviet era.

He also said that Western states had actively worked with this information. These claims could not initially be verified.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told state-owned news channel Russia-24 on Saturday that, in addition to the US and Britain, the toxin could have also come from the Czech Republic, Slovakia or Sweden.

Czech Defence Minister Karla Slechtova called the suggestion "absurd," while the Slovak Foreign Ministry said it "categorically" rejected the accusation.

The British authorities believe that the highly toxic nerve agent Novichok, which was produced in the former Soviet Union, was used in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia earlier this month, which has led London to suspect Moscow‘s involvement.

Russia denies this and argues that all of its chemical weapons stocks were destroyed between 2002 and 2017. As part of the escalating row, both countries have each ordered the expulsion of 23 diplomats.

 

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