Britain is aware of extra about thriller substance behind sickness of Russian double agent

SALISBURY, England (Reuters) – Britain mentioned on Wednesday that investigators now knew extra about a thriller substance that struck down a former Russian double agent and his daughter in an English metropolis, in a case that threatens to additional injury already strained ties with Moscow.

Sergei Skripal, a former colonel of Russia’s GRU army intelligence service, appears on contained in the defendants’ cage as he attends a listening to on the Moscow army district court docket, Russia August 9, 2006. Picture taken August 9, 2006. Kommersant/Yuri Senatorov by way of REUTERS

Sergei Skripal, as soon as a colonel in Russia’s GRU army intelligence service, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, had been found slumped unconscious on a bench outdoors a procuring centre within the southern English metropolis of Salisbury on Sunday afternoon.

Both stay critically unwell in intensive care.

British politicians and media have speculated that Russia might have been behind the suspected poisoning of a person it regards as a traitor. Moscow has strongly rejected any involvement.

“We do know more about the substance and the police will be making a further statement this afternoon in order to share some of that,” inside minister Amber Rudd mentioned after chairing the government’s emergency response committee.

“We need to keep a cool head and make sure that we collect all the evidence we can and we need to make sure that we respond not to rumour,” Rudd mentioned. “Then we will need to decide what action to take.”

Counter-terrorism police are main the investigation and Britain’s army analysis laboratory at Porton Down is attempting to determine the substance which brought on Skripal, 66, and his daughter to break down.

The suspected poisoning prompted Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to say on Tuesday that if Moscow had been behind the incident then Britain may look once more at sanctions and take different measures to punish Russia, which he solid as a “malign and disruptive” state.

On Wednesday Russia reaffirmed its view that allegations of Russian involvement within the case had been being cynically used to whip up an anti-Russian marketing campaign in Britain.

“It’s very hard not to assess this (speculation) as provocative black PR designed to complicate relations between our two countries,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova advised reporters in Moscow.

A supply near the British investigation mentioned that Russian involvement within the Skripal poisoning was simply one of many variations being checked out by counter-terrorism investigators with help from the MI5 home intelligence company.

Police mentioned new cordons had been added close to Solstice Park, a business park, within the city of Amesbury close to to Salisbury. They have sealed off the realm of Salisbury the place Skripal was found in addition to the Zizzi pizza restaurant the place they dined and the Bishop’s Mill pub the place they’d a drink.

The Porton Down facility is seen, in Wilshire, Britain, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Some emergency employees had been handled after the incident and one stays in hospital.


The British capital has been dubbed “Londongrad” because of the massive quantities of Russian wealth which have flowed westwards because the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. It is the Western metropolis of selection for a lot of oligarchs from the previous Soviet Union.

Britain has particularly drawn parallels with the 2006 homicide of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko who was killed with radioactive polonium-210 in London.

A earlier British inquiry mentioned Russian President Vladimir Putin most likely permitted the homicide of Litvinenko, who died after ingesting inexperienced tea laced with the uncommon and really potent radioactive isotope at London’s Millennium Hotel.

It took three weeks for British docs to determine that Litvinenko had been poisoned by polonium-210 by which era he was at demise’s door.

Russia denied involvement within the demise of Litvinenko, which the British inquiry mentioned had been hatched by the Federal Security Service (FSB), major successor to the Soviet-era KGB.

Former British defence minister Michael Fallon known as for a stronger response if Russia was concerned within the Skripal affair.

“We’ve got to respond more effectively than we did last time over Litvinenko. Our response then clearly wasn’t strong enough,” Fallon advised Reuters. “We need to deter Russia from believing they can get away with attacks like this on our streets if it’s proved.”

Litvinenko’s homicide despatched Britain’s ties with Russia to what was then a post-Cold War low. Relations suffered farther from Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its army backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The suspected poisoning of Skripal has come shortly earlier than Russia’s presidential election on March 18, which Putin is predicted to win comfortably, extending his rule by an extra six years. The former KGB officer has been president since 2000.

Russia’s FSB arrested Skripal in 2004 on suspicion of betraying dozens of Russian brokers to British intelligence. He was sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2006 after a secret trial.

In 2010 Skripal was given refuge in Britain after being exchanged for Russian spies caught within the West as a part of a Cold War-style spy swap at Vienna airport.

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden; Editing by Gareth Jones

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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