Russia: UK must apologize in nerve agent case

Vladimir Putin the Russian president left and Oleg Deripaska right. Mr Deripaska has been accused by America of 'directly or indirectly' working for the Russian government

Vladimir Putin the Russian president left and Oleg Deripaska right. Mr Deripaska has been accused by America of 'directly or indirectly' working for the Russian government

Britain has also suspended high-level diplomatic contact with Moscow.

The Kremlin says Britain will have to apologize for unfounded accusations against Russian Federation over the poisoning of an ex-spy.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Britain will have to apologize to Russian Federation for its "mad accusations" that "have no foundation whatsoever".

On Monday, Moscow's top diplomat Lavrov told a news conference that the Skripal attack "could be in the interests of the British government which found itself in an uncomfortable situation having failed to fulfil promises to its electorate about the conditions for Brexit".

Vladimir Putin won the Russian election last month by a landslide to give him a record fifth term as president.

So far, 29 countries, including Ireland, have expelled Russian diplomats in response to the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England on March 4.

The State Department says that a number of Russian diplomats expelled from a Russian consulate in Washington state could be replaced by other Russian officials, noting that the same is true for a number of American officials recently expelled from a consulate in St. Petersberg.

Mr Putin said he had been informed of comments made by Porton Down.

"Now this has been confirmed by the head of the secret lab", it said.

Putin argued that experts have said that such nerve agents could have been made in some 20 countries.

"As for the other countries, everything will also be symmetrical in terms of the number of people from their diplomatic missions who will be leaving Russian Federation, and for now that's pretty much it", said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Britain has blamed Russia for the poisoning, and has been backed up by dozens of Western countries which have ordered Russian diplomats to leave. In response, Moscow expelled the equal number of United Kingdom diplomats.

The official told The Associated Press that France would not respond to Russian Federation until Moscow answers questions posed by Britain's government on March 12.

The request came after Moscow received and analysed samples of the Novichok agent used in the attack.

The global chemical weapons control body will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, at Russia's request.

The OPCW said Russian Federation had asked for the meeting but London has already accused Moscow of requesting the OPCW talks as a "diversionary tactic".

Lavrov said Monday that Russian Federation had requested the OPCW meeting to discuss the case and asked it to provide details of its cooperation with Britain in the poisoning probe.

"There's not - as far as we know - any antidote that you can use to negate the effects of it", Aitkenhead said of novichok.

During his interview with Sky News, Aitkenhead addressed the suggestion that the nerve agent allegedly smeared on the Skripals' front door originated in his lab. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko called Skripal's poisoning a "provocation arranged by Britain" in order to justify high military spending, because "they need a major enemy".

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