British Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected denials from Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Salisbury poisoning incident, saying there is “no other conclusion” other than the Russian state behing behind the attack.
Putin said on Sunday it was “nonsense” to think the Kremlin was behind the incident, which has left Skripal and his daughter critically ill in a British hospital.
Responding to a question over whether she thought the Russian president was lying, May said on Monday: “I am clear that what we have seen shows that there is no other conclusion but the Russia state is culpable for what happened on the streets of Salisbury.”
On Monday chemical experts were expected to arrive in Britain to analyse samples of the nerve agent and independently verify the poison used.
May said: “The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will be arriving in the UK today ... They will be talking to the police about the samples that they can take because we want to ensure that this nerve agent is independently verified. That’s the job they’ll be doing.”
On Monday, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that the UK would either have to provide evidence of its claims of Russian culpability or apologise.
Russia’s Tass news agency quoted Peskov as saying: “Sooner or later they will have to be responsible for these allegations: they will either have to provide some evidence or apologise.”
On Monday the European Union released a statement to say the bloc “strongly condemns” the attack against the Skripals, and offered “unqualified solidarity” with the UK.
The statement said: “The European Union is shocked at the offensive use of any military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, for the first time on European soil in over 70 years.
“The use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is completely unacceptable and constitutes a security threat to us all. Any such use is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, a breach of international law and undermines the rules-based international order.”
The escalating diplomatic row comes as the local Salisbury investigation widens. On Monday Sky News reported that the car in which Yulia Skripal travelled in the day before she and her father were poisoned in Salisbury has been taken away for examination by the military.
The silver pick-up, owned by a friend of the pair, Ross Cassidy, is believed to now be in the MoD’s defence laboratory, Porton Down, where it will undergo testing, Sky News reported.
On Sunday news outlets in the US reported that Sergei Skripal’s own car may have been used to deliver the deadly nerve agent, through the car’s ventilation system.