British foreign minister accuses Russia of stockpiling nerve agent

Russia news UK war

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday he had learnt about the Skripal case from the media and vowed Russia possesses no such toxic agents.

Russian President and Presidential candidate Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a rally and concert marking the fourth anniversary of Russia's annexation of the Crimea region, at Manezhnaya Square in central Moscow, Russia March 18, 2018. The U.K. has accused Russian Federation of bearing responsibility for the March 4 attack, which British officials say involved a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed secretly by Russian Federation.

In a rare joint statement, U.S. President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May said "there is no plausible alternative explanation" to Russian responsibility.

Officials from the world's chemical weapons watchdog will arrive in Britain on Monday to investigate the samples used in the attack and the results should be known in about two weeks, Britain's foreign ministry said.

The intervention risked shattering the global tough line against Vladimir Putin, after a string of allies including Angela Merkel and Donald Trump swung in behind Theresa May. Russian Federation has vehemently denied its alleged involvement in the incident and said retaliatory measures would follow soon.

He made the remarks hours after UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the United Kingdom has evidence Russian Federation has been creating and stockpiling the Soviet-era "military-grade" nerve agent Novichok over the last decade. "Russia does not possess such agents".

She said Britain had canceled an invitation for Lavrov to visit and would not send ministers or royals to the soccer World Cup this summer in Russian Federation - though the England team will still compete in the tournament.

"They may be alive, maybe not, maybe nothing happened at all", he said. Now one member stands accused of using chemical weapons on the sovereign soil of another member.

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Chizhov pointed out that the United Kingdom chemical weapons research facility, Porton Down, is only eight miles from Salisbury, where Skripal - a former Russian intelligence officer convicted in his home country of spying for Britain- and his daughter were found March 4. They and a police officer are hospitalized after being exposed to what officials say is a Soviet-developed nerve agent.

British investigators are working on the theory that an item of clothing or cosmetics or a gift in the luggage of Skripal's daughter was impregnated with the toxin, and then opened in Skripal's house in Salisbury, the Daily Telegraph said.

Johnson said he will brief European Union foreign ministers on the case Monday before meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the trail of blame for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia "leads inexorably to the Kremlin".

Another possible clue to the poisoning is that sources told ABC News Skripal was shouting and acting incoherently in a restaurant just before he and his daughter collapsed.

U.K. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson called relations between the two countries "exceptionally chilly" and said Russian Federation should "go away and shut up".

In London, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn struck a starkly different tone to that of the British government by warning against rushing into a new Cold War before full evidence of Moscow's culpability was proven.

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