Tue, Mar 13, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Britain says will respond to spy attack

BLAME GAME:The Kremlin denied involvement in the attack, while a Russian state TV presenter accused London of orchestrating the assault to mar Moscow’s prestige

Reuters, LONDON and MOSCOW

Military personnel in protective clothing prepare to remove vehicles from a car park near the site of a nerve gas attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Salisbury, England, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA

Britain will respond if it identifies who was responsible for an attack on a former Russian double agent in the English city of Salisbury, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday.

The spokesman’s comments came as May chaired a meeting of the British National Security Council to weigh how to respond to a nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal, who passed secrets to British intelligence and was on Sunday last week found collapsed in Salisbury with his daughter.

“I think the Cabinet ... is very clear that this is an ongoing investigation, that it is important that we allow the police to get on with their work,” the spokesman told reporters. “If we get to a position when we’re able to attribute this attack then we will do so and the government will deliver an appropriate response.”

May was expected to make a statement later yesterday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov yesterday said that the poisoning of Skripal was not a matter for the Russian government.

“The mentioned Russian citizen worked for one of the British intelligence services, the incident occurred in Great Britain. This is not a matter for the Russian government,” Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

Peskov also said he had not heard allegations from British politicians about possible Russian involvement in the attack.

British Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat told the BBC that the poisoning is “looking awfully like it was state-sponsored attempted murder.”

Meanwhile, Russian state TV has accused Britain of poisoning Skripal as part of a special operation designed to spoil Russia’s hosting of the soccer World Cup this summer.

“They tried to pin the blame on Russia, but if you think it through the poisoning of the GRU [military intelligence] colonel was only advantageous to the British,” Russia’s top pro-Kremlin presenter Dmitry Kiselyov said.

“As a source, Skripal was completely wrung out and of little interest, but as a poisoning victim, he is very useful. Why not poison him? It’s no big deal, and with his daughter to make it more heart-wrenching for the public.”

Kiselyov, whose broadcast career has been advanced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Skripal’s poisoning opened up many “possibilities” for Britain, including organizing an international boycott of the World Cup, which Russia is hosting this summer.

“An excellent special operation,” said Kiselyov. “Skripal is cheap expendable material,” he said, adding that after the operation Russia would then have to “justify itself.”

British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson has said London might have to review the attendance of its official delegation to the competition if it turns out Russia was behind the poisoning.

Additional reporting by AP

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