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Chemical watchdog backs Britain: Nerve agent poisoned former spy

15 April 2018

Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that Britain should prove that poisoned former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter are not being held hostage.

"Already politicians like Boris Johnson are once again trying to distort the truth and announce that the OPCW statement supports Britain's conclusions without exception", Sergei Lavrov said.

The OPCW report does not name the nerve agent directly; its name and chemical structure were sent in a classified report to OPCW member states.

However a "combination of credible open-source reporting and intelligence" showed that in the 1980s the Soviet Union developed a "fourth generation" class of nerve agents known as Novichoks.

Sir Mark told how Russian intelligence officers are believed to have targeted emails from former spy Sergei Skripal's daughter Yulia since 2013.

Sedwill's letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg alleged that Russia had "the technical means, operational experience and motive for the attack on the Skripals and that it is highly likely that the Russian state was responsible".

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The incident has led to a diplomatic crisis between Moscow and the West as Moscow denies any involvement and accuses Britain of inventing a "fake story".

Ms Skripal was discharged from hospital on Monday but the 33-year-old has said her father is "still seriously ill".

"In 2017, we eliminated all chemical weapons", Yakovenko said.

"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent global weapons controls", he said.

Zakharova added there were doubts that a recent statement by Yulia Skripal was authentic.

OPCW analysts, based in The Hague, took blood samples from the Skripals as they were treated in Salisbury Hospital after the March 4 poisoning.

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"If someone was spying, why were the British services not complaining about that?"

"I have access to friends and family, and I have been made aware of my specific contacts at the Russian Embassy who have kindly offered me their assistance in any way they can".

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who served as a KGB operative between 1975 and 1991, said Moscow "does not possess such agents" and dismissed claims of Russia being behind the attack as "nonsense".

The U.K. called the Russian demand "perverse" and said the Chemical Weapons Convention didn't provide "for a victim to engage the likely perpetrator".

"With no possibility to verify it, the publication by the Metropolitan Police raises new questions rather than gives answers", the embassy said.

The Russian embassy in London cast doubt on the authenticity of Yulia Skripal's statement, saying it indicates the UK's "forcible isolation of the Russian citizen".

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Chemical watchdog backs Britain: Nerve agent poisoned former spy