Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

Russia have been spying on Skripals for five years, security adviser says

Daughter of spy poisoned in UK declines help from Russian embassy Yulia Skripal tells Russia to leave her alone after being poisoned with nerve agent
Gerardo Duncan | 14 April, 2018, 22:18

Russian Federation denies the British claims about Novichok, saying that it completed the destruction of all its Soviet-era chemical weapons arsenals a year ago under worldwide oversight.

He questioned the authenticity of a statement issued by Ms Skripal through the Metropolitan Police saying she did not want to meet Russian officials. A police officer, detective sergeant Nick Bailey, was inadvertently poisoned after tending to the pair, but was released from hospital on 22 March.

In an analysis of samples taken from the home of the Skripals, the highest concentrations of toxic chemical novichok, thought to be responsible for their poisoning, was found on door handles.

While it was "unlikely" that Novichok could be made and deployed by terrorists or criminal gangs, Sir Mark said Russian Federation had continued to produce and stockpile small quantities of the nerve agent within the last decade.

However, the OPCW did not explicitly name Novichok in its published summary, nor did it say where the chemical may have come from.

"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent global chemical weapons controls", he said.

"The British Government still hasn't produced any evidence in support of its position that would confirm their official version", he told a news conference at the Russian embassy in London.

In the 2000s, Mr Sedwill said Russian Federation had trained military personnel in using these weapons, including on door handles.

"It is highly unlikely that any former Soviet republic (other than Russia) pursued an offensive chemical weapons programme after independence".

He said only Russian Federation had the "technical means, operational experience and the motive" for the attack. He said it was highly unlikely that any former Soviet republic besides Russian Federation pursued an offensive chemical weapons program.

He said Owen had said other cases between 2002 and 2006 suggested that the "Russian state may have been involved in the assassination of Mr Putin's critics".

In the letter, Sedwill said the Soviet Union developed fourth generation nerve agents known as Novichoks in the 1980s at the State Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology near Volgograd under the codeword FOLIANT.

He said Moscow had a proven record of state-sponsored assassinations and had tested ways of delivering chemical weapons, including the use of door handles to spread nerve agents, as Britain believes was done in the Skripal case. "Within the last decade, Russian Federation has produced and stockpiled small quantities of novichok under the same program".

National security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill said cyber specialists from the GRU - Russian military intelligence - targeted Yulia Skripal's email accounts as far back as 2013.

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador has accused the British authorities of destroying evidence in the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

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