Ex-spy poisoning row: Britain unable to identify source of nerve agent

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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".

If Britain does not show evidence to back up its allegations that Moscow initiated the attack, "there are ample grounds to assume that we are dealing with a grand scale provocation organized in London aimed to discredit Russian Federation". "We spoke about it in brief, Mr. President asked some questions about it", Putin said.

Vladimir Chizhov said Tuesday "this distractive maneuver could have been aimed at the British society, which has remained split after the 2016 Brexit referendum".

Early in March, Russia was accused of poisoning a former Russian double agent in Britain. British intelligence agencies could have been involved and the case helped distract public attention from the British government's hard talks to exit the European Union, Lavrov said.

Chizhov says "Russia clearly had no motive" to attack Skripal, who was convicted of spying for Britain but freed in a 2010 spy swap.

Skripal's daughter Yulia is getting better after spending three weeks in critical condition due to the nerve toxin attack at her father's home in Salisbury, the hospital where she is being treated said last Thursday.

France is refusing to answer a detailed list of questions from Russian Federation over the spy poisoning scandal in Britain that has turned into a multi-country diplomatic dispute.

"This chemical identity of the nerve agent is one of four factors used by the Government to attribute the use of chemical weapons in Salisbury to Russian Federation".

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.

A government spokesperson said on Tuesday: "We have been clear from the very beginning that our world leading experts at Porton Down identified the substance used in Salisbury as a Novichok, a military grade nerve agent".

Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, told Sky News they were not yet able to prove it was made in Russian Federation.

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At the same time, the lab's job is "to provide the scientific evidence that identifies what the particular nerve agent is. but it's not our job to say where that was actually manufactured", he said.

He said: "I believe that our Western partners, I mean primarily the United Kingdom, the United States and some countries that blindly follow them, have cast away all decency, they are resorting to open lies, blatant misinformation".

His comments came as he hosted leaders from the three Baltic states - which have had a torrid history with their larger neighbor Russian Federation.

Aitkenhead then hinted towards the involvement of a state actor in the manufacturing of the nerve agent, while pointing out at the sophisticated methods deployed in the manufacturing of the poisonous agent.

Police said they had been exposed to a nerve agent.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told CNN an emergency meeting will be held on Wednesday at Russia's request.

Evgeny Buzhinskiy has warned the expelling of diplomats over the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is creating a situation which is "worse than the Cold War".

London has accused Russian Federation of using the Novichok nerve agent, developed in the latter days of the Soviet Union. "If they choose to ignore them, there is ample ground to assume that we are dealing with a grand-scale provocation organised by London with the end to discredit Russian Federation".

"We hope to discuss the whole matter and call on Britain to provide every possible element of evidence they might have at their hands", he said.

Russia's top diplomat also mocked Britain's claim that there was no plausible alternative explanation for the poisonings of the Skripals. British authorities suspect Skripal was poisoned by a Soviet-made nerve agent.

Russian President, facing a stuttering economy and an unusual show of Western unity that included even states traditionally friendly towards Moscow, appeared to have stuck to the diplomatic playbook with the symmetrical response.

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