Russian President Vladimir Putin denied Britain’s charge of using a Soviet-era nerve agent against a former Russian spy as a team of chemical experts from The Hague were heading to London on Monday (March 19).
Talking to reporters at his campaign office while cruising to presidential poll win on Sunday, Putin said Russia does not possess the nerve agent Novichok mentioned by Britain. Moscow had eliminated all chemical weapons under the control of international observers, he said.
His comments came hours after British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson charged that Russia had been secretly stockpiling Novichok.
Putin said he learned about the poisoning of Sergie Skripal from media reports, adding that Russia is willing to assist in the investigation.
In an interview to BBC, Johnson said a team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons from The Hague (pictured) will arrive in London on Monday to test samples of the chemical. Results of the tests are expected only after two weeks.
Johnson said besides stockpiling Novichok, Russia had been exploring ways for the delivery of nerve agents for assassinations during the past decade.
He rubbished a suggestion by Russia’s ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov that Novichok may have been delivered from a laboratory in the UK.
In a BBC interview, Chizhov said investigators may have checked the chemical seized from the crime scene in Salisbury against samples retained in British laboratories.
Chizhov said Porton Down, the largest military facility in the UK dealing with chemical weapons research, is just eight miles from Salisbury.