Russia said it will not respond to UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s midnight ultimatum over the poisoning of a former spy in Britain unless it is given samples of the nerve agent used in the attack, the Russian foreign ministry has said.
In a statement, the foreign ministry said British threats to punish Moscow over the poisoning would not go unanswered, and described the allegations of Russian involvement as a provocation, The Independent reported.
After May said a Russian nerve was used in the poisoning and pointed the finger at Moscow, she launched a diplomatic offensive against Russia on Tuesday, calling a host of world leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in a bid to win support for the UK contention that Russia was behind the incident.
British investigators have said former military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter were exposed to a class of nerve agents made in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Both remain in critical condition in hospital, while a police officer who was also exposed to the nerve agent is in serious but stable condition.
All three leaders offered May broad support, with Trump telling the Prime Minister that “the U.S. was with the UK all the way” and agreeing “that the Russian government must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used.” Merkel called on Russia to reveal details of its chemical weapons and agreed with May that there must be a coordinated response to “aggressive Russian behavior.”
Senior officials at NATO and the European Union also rallied around the UK, with Guy Verhofstadt, a senior member of the European Parliament, saying the EU needed a coordinated response to the “new aggression by the Kremlin on European soil.”
However, none of them came out in support of any specific punishment or sanction against Russia.
As the diplomatic row heightened, there were growing calls in the UK for an international boycott of this summer’s soccer World Cup in Russia and a ban on Russian broadcaster RT.
And just as tensions over the Skripal case increased, British counterterrorism officers announced Tuesday that they had launched an investigation into the death of another Russian exile, businessman Nikolai Glushkov, who had been a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Glushkov was found dead in his home in London on Monday.
“The death is currently being treated as unexplained,” police said Tuesday, adding there was no evidence to suggest a link to the Skripal poisoning.