Russian spy: Embassy warns UK against ‘punitive’ measures

Sergei Skripal and his daughter YuliaImage copyright
EPA/ Yulia Skripal/Facebook

Image caption

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, are in a critical condition in hospital

The UK’s threat of “punitive” measures against Russia over the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter will “meet with a response”, Russia has said.

Russia’s UK embassy posted a series of tweets as a deadline looms for it to explain how a Russia-made nerve agent was used in the 4 March incident.

It said there would be no reply to the “ultimatum” until it is given access to samples of the nerve agent.

No 10 said Donald Trump has told the PM the “US was with the UK all the way”.

In a telephone conversation, the US president agreed with Theresa May that the Russian government “must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used” against Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, it added.

The PM had said the UK must “stand ready” to take action against Russia.

She said details would be set out in the Commons on Wednesday should there be no “credible” explanation by midnight on how a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia – part of a group of nerve agents known as Novichok – was used in Salisbury on 4 March.

Media captionDonald Trump to discuss Russian spy investigation with Theresa May

Downing Street said Theresa May also held a telephone conservation with France’s President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who both expressed “solidarity” with the UK ‘s position.

One of the tweets from the Russian embassy said: “Any threat to take ‘punitive’ measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that.”

The embassy added the UK ambassador in Moscow was summoned to the foreign ministry in Moscow and told the UK’s actions were a “clear provocation” and Russia was not involved in the poisoning.

Giving an update in the attempted murder investigation, police said former double agent Mr Skripal and his daughter remain critically ill in hospital after being found slumped on a park bench in the centre of Salisbury.

Det Sgt Nick Bailey, who fell ill responding to the incident, is in a serious but stable condition.

Speaking outside New Scotland Yard, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said 35 other people had been seen in hospital, of whom 34 had been assessed and discharged, while the condition of one person is being monitored as an outpatient.

Mr Basu revealed that Miss Skripal had flown into Heathrow Airport on Saturday, 3 March.

He appealed for witnesses who saw the pair in her father’s Red BMW car – licence plate number HD09 WAO – between 13:00 and 13.45 GMT on the day of the poisoning.

Image copyright
Ben Whitlock

Image caption

Police working near Sergei Skripal’s recovered car

The car was left in Sainsbury’s upper level car park in the Maltings shopping area before the Skripals went to the Bishops Mill Pub and then the restaurant Zizzi.

Media captionNeil Basu, the UK’s head of counter-terrorism, made a fresh appeal for witnesses

Mr Basu said the police investigation will take “many weeks”, with the “prime focus” being how the poison was administered.

However, he said detectives were “not declaring a person of interest or suspect at this time”.

Police confirmed that Mr Skripal, who came to the UK in 2010 as part of a “spy swap” after he had been convicted by Russia of passing information to MI6, was a British citizen.

Media captionBoris Johnson: “We are giving Russia until midnight to explain”

In other developments:

How could the UK retaliate against Russia?

Britain could expel Russian diplomats, as it did after the poisoning of former Russian Federal Security Service operative Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 with radioactive polonium.

But many argue that this, and the other measures that were taken after that killing – including visa restrictions on Russian officials – did not go far enough.

So what else could the UK do?

Other possible actions could include:

  • Freezing financial assets
  • Bans on visas
  • Boycotting the Fifa World Cup in Russia later this year
  • Taking Russian broadcasters such as RT (formerly Russia Today) off the air in the UK

Read more on how the UK could retaliate

Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning

Russian spy: Embassy warns UK against ‘punitive’ measures

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *