The UK Foreign Office is continuing to stick with her “highly likely” motto regarding Moscow being behind the alleged poisoning attack on former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal, while having no evidence to corroborate her claims.
It’s been two months since Sergei Skripal and his daughter were allegedly poisoned in Salisbury, UK as a result of exposure to a nerve agent, and while the UK government keeps blaming it on Moscow, the Russian Embassy has once again stressed that the authorities had neither a suspect nor proof – only unfounded accusations that led to the worst crisis in Russia-UK relations.
The meme is as an allusion to the movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” by the Academy Award winner Martin McDonagh.
Two months after the Salisbury incident, Sputnik’s here to remind readers of the landmarks in the Skripal case:
On March 4, Sergei, former officer from Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), and his daughter Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping mall in Salisbury, with police later saying the pair was “in critical condition in intensive care.”
Targeted by Nerve Agent, First Speculations of Russian Involvement
Immediately after the incident, British media speculated if the incident was a targeted attack against Sergei, alleging Russian involvement, while police later reported that the Skripals were the subjects of an attempted murder by administration of a nerve agent. The Kremlin said that the accusations against Moscow “were not long in coming,” and offered to work together with the UK authorities on investigating the case.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s readiness to provide assistance in the probe, at the same time stressing that Russia hadn’t been provided with any specific facts, proving its involvement in the Skripals’ poisoning. London refused to cooperate with Russia on the case, as well as to provide samples of the substance allegedly used against the Skripal family.
May: Russia is ‘Highly Likely’ Behind the Poisoning
With the investigation still underway, UK Prime Minister Theresa May rushed to a conclusion saying that it was “highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yuila Skripal,” adding that Moscow was either accountable for the poisoning, or allowed the military-grade nerve agent Novichok, “developed by Russia” to get into the hands of those who were.
Moscow, in turn, has consistently denied the accusations, calling them “absurd.” May said that London’s claims were based on “the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down.”
UK Expels 23 Russian Diplomats, Moscow Strikes Back
Moreover, the prime minister announced the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats from the UK since the Cold War over Moscow’s alleged involvement in the incident. Days later, the Russian Foreign Ministry declared 23 employees of the UK Embassy in Moscow personae non gratae in response to London’s move, having also revoked its agreement on the opening and operation of the UK Consulate General in St. Petersburg.
Mass Expulsion of Russian Diplomats in Solidarity with UK
Over 25 countries decided to oust Russian diplomatic workers in solidarity with London – Moscow retaliated with a mirror response to all those countries that expelled Russian diplomats, sending back the equivalent number of their employees from Russia.
While medics claimed that Yulia and Sergei were in critical condition after being exposed to the nerve agent, and might never recover, the agent’s daughter woke up after spending a month in the hospital. The woman said that her strength was growing daily, and she regained the ability to speak.
Days later, the Salisbury Hospital announced that her father was no longer in critical condition and was recovering despite the initial claims.
Scotland Yard Yet to Find Suspects
The police are yet to find suspects in the poisoning, with the Sunday People media outlet reporting earlier this week that a former officer from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), codenamed Gordon, had been identified as a suspect, adding that he had already left the UK for Russia.
OPCW Unable to Determine Amount of Nerve Agent
“In response to questions from the media, the OPCW spokesperson stated that the OPCW would not be able to estimate or determine the amount of the nerve agent that was used in Salisbury on March 4, 2018. The quantity should probably be characterized in milligrams. However, the analysis of samples collected by the OPCW Technical Assistance Visit team concluded that the chemical substance found was of high purity, persistent and resistant to weather conditions,” the statement by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons read.
Earlier, the New York Times reported, citing the director general of the OPCW, that 50 or 100 grams of the substance had been used in Salisbury.
UK Foreign Office: Russia Still Behind Skripal Poisoning
Earlier this week, Czech Republic President Miloš Zeman said that his country had produced in small quantities and then destroyed an A230 nerve agent, which the Czech military intelligence service called “Novichok.”.Commenting on Zeman’s statement, the UK Foreign Office reiterated its position concerning the Skripals’ poisoning, saying that the UK still considers Russia to be the perpetrator despite the Czech president’s words.