US, France, Germany, Britain blame Russian Federation for spy's poisoning

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The leaders of Britain, the United States, France, and Germany have jointly condemned the suspected poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter.

Moscow will expel British diplomats in response to London's move to kick out 23 Russian officials over the poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

Britain's ambassador to Russia says the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Britain was an attack on global values.

The Western leaders said the use of the toxin was a clear breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention and global law.

Asked by a Reuters reporter in the Kazakh capital if Russia planned to expel British diplomats from Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov smiled and said: "We will, of course".

On Monday, May said it was "highly likely" that Russian Federation was behind the attack.

May on Thursday visited the normally genteel city where police investigators in chemical protection suits and the army have been removing evidence of the poisoning.

The president's assessment, which occurred shortly after his administration announced new sanctions against Russian entities for interference in the 2016 election, comes after the administration initially hedged on blaming Russia for the attack. "We share the U.K.'s assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia´s failure to address the legitimate request by the government of the United Kingdom further underlines Russia's responsibility".

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Speaking on the floor of the British Parliament, May said Russian Federation had provided "no credible explanation" as to how the chemical was used in Britain, "instead they have treated the use of a military grade chemical agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt". Britain blames Russian Federation for the March 4 attack, which has left the pair in critical condition and a police officer seriously ill.

In remarks Thursday in Moscow, Lavrov called May's actions "boorish" and said it was meant to distract from Britain's hard negotiations in leaving the European Union.

Vil Mirzayanov, a Soviet-era chemist who helped create Novichok, denied that Skripal's poison could have come from stocks in the former USSR and said that terrorists also could not produce it.

And it has said that it could respond to the UK's decision to dismiss 23 diplomats - secret agents, according to May - at "any minute" with its own retaliatory measures.

In addition to its relationship with Russian Federation, the attack has tested Britain's ties with the US and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union allies as the country leaves the EU.

Skripal, a former colonel in the GRU who betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence, and his daughter are critically ill. The pair remain hospitalized in critical condition.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2006, and in 2010 was given refuge in Britain after being exchanged for Russian spies.

He said: "You do understand that we, as polite people, will first deliver our response to the British counterparts".


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