Social media is abuzz with the announcement by Britain scientists who denied that Russia is the source of the nerve agent A-234 (also known as “Novichok”) which was used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia in early March in the English city of Salisbury.
It is an embarrassing moment for Britain as UK’s accusations has led to expelling of 150 diplomats from US,EU member states and NATO affiliate nations.
Novichok is a series of nerve agents the Soviet Union and Russia developed between 1971 and 1993.Russian scientists who developed the agents claim they are the deadliest nerve agents ever made.
Russian President Vladimir Putin,following talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,said Moscow wants a thorough probe into the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain and will demand to be part of it.
Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, said they had not been able to prove A-234 substance,allegedly used for Skripals’ poisoning, was made in Russia, according to reports.
“We were able to identify it as Novichok, to identify that it was a military-grade nerve agent. We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to the government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions you have come to,” he stated.
Putin said, given the lack of precise information about the agent’s origin, “the speed at which the anti-Russian campaign has been launched causes bewilderment.”Blaming Russia, Prime Minister Theresa May had said it’s “highly likely” the Kremlin is responsible for the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson went further by directly blaming Putin, said that it was “overwhelmingly likely” that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia personally ordered the nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy this month.
Moscow adamantly denies that and has ordered tit-for-tat expulsions of Western diplomats.
Relations between the UK and Russia have seriously worsened over Skripal poisoning row as so far 29 nations have expelled diplomats over the poisoning, which the British government holds Russia responsible for.The United States last week ordered 60 Russian diplomats to leave, part of a widespread expulsion of diplomats by Britain .
The chemical weapons watchdog OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) said it would hold a special executive council meet on Wednesday into the UK Government’s claim that Russia was behind the attack.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested Britain could be behind the poisoning of a former double agent that has triggered an unprecedented wave of tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats.