Spy poisoning: Russia tells UK to give sample of nerve agent, not ultimatum

Dismissing Britain’s demand to reveal all on a nerve agent Novichok that is suspected to have landed a former Russian double agent and his daughter in a hospital, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (pictured) said Moscow will respond only if a sample of the agent is provided to them.

Lavrov reaffirmed that Russia has nothing to do with the poisoning of former colonel Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in the southern English city of Salisbury on March 4.

As soon as rumours spread of a Russian nerve agent used in Skripal’s poisoning, Moscow requested London to provide access to the agent and also all facts linked to the investigation since Yulia is a Russian citizen.

Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the UK has to immediately contact the country (in this case Russia) suspected of using the substance, Lavrov said. The Convention ensures Russia full right to get access to the substance and analyse it.

Ignoring these rules, and Russia’s requests, British Prime Minister Theresa May is issuing ultimatum, Lavrov said.

Russian parliament speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said the poisoning scandal is an attempt to meddle in the presidential election on Sunday (March 18).

Alexander Shulgin, Moscow’s representative at the chemical weapons watchdog Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said London should provide material proof of the alleged Russian link in the spy poisoning case.

Britain believes Russia is directly responsible for the poisoning or it has lost possession of the chemical weapon that has now fallen into the wrong hands.

Russian ultimatum

Before May is expected to announce new measures against Russia on Wednesday, Kremlin warned that no British media outlet will work in Russia if her government shuts down Russia Today (RT) broadcasting in the UK.

“I can tell you right now that not a single British media outlet will be working in our country if they shut RT down,” Maria Zakharova, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told Rossiya 1 channel.

Britain’s media regulator Ofcom said it may consider the implications for RT’s broadcast licences if it is proved that Russian state acted against the UK in the poisoning of Skripal.