London deliberately used codename Novichok to evoke associations with Russian Federation - diplomat

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gestures during a meeting with South Korean head of National Security Chung Eui-yong at the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow Russia. Lavrov says Russia will kick

The UK government said they were poisoned with a nerve agent of a type developed by Russian Federation called Novichok and May said she believed Moscow was "culpable".

Britain on Wednesday announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats, freezing of Russian state assets in Britain, suspension of all planned high-level bilateral contacts, and a boycott of this year's World Cup in Russia by ministers and royal family members.

British Ambassador Laurie Bristow was called to the Foreign Ministry Saturday morning to be informed of the moves.

"Russia's response doesn't change the facts of the matter - the attempted assassination of two people on British soil, for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable", she said.

It added, "The British side is warned that, in the case of further actions of an unfriendly character toward Russia, the Russian side reserves the right to take other answering measures".

Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement on Saturday that the country's National Security Council would meet early next week to consider its next steps.

When asked by Sky News whether Russia had destroyed all its chemical weapons in line with the internationally recognised Chemical Weapons Convention, Russian diplomat Alexander Shulgin said: "Absolutely". She said Britain is taking a tough line because of frustration at recent advances of Russian-backed Syrian government forces against Western-backed rebels.

More news: Russian Federation to expel 23 British diplomats in escalating row over spy's poisoning

Responding, Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the accusations were "shocking and unforgivable".

London and its allies have blamed Moscow for the attack and on Friday, Britain directly implicated Putin himself, unleashing the Kremlin's fury.

Bristow told reporters afterwards that Britain had only expelled the Russian diplomats after Moscow had failed to explain how the nerve toxin had got to Salisbury. They remain in a critical condition.

The ministry issued a statement saying 23 employees of the British embassy in Moscow have been declared personae non gratae.

"Our quarrel is with Putin's Kremlin, and with his decision, and we think it is overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the United Kingdom, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the second World War", Johnson told reporters in the British capital. The leaders stressed that they share Britain's opinion on Russia's involvement in this incident, and they called Moscow for providing the information about Novichok agent (a series of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union and Russiabetween 1971-1993, -ed.) to the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons).

Russian investigators said they had opened a criminal investigation into the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal and offered to cooperate with British authorities.

Britain said the assistance in that case was not enough, and in 2016, a judge-led inquiry concluded that Putin had probably approved Litvinenko's murder, something Moscow denies.

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