United Kingdom points finger at Putin over nerve-agent attack

Putin: Russia's post-Soviet tsar

The confirmation comes as part of a delayed and still unfolding response to a variety of co-ordinated Western measures against Moscow following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain last week.

The tension between the United Kingdom and Russia just keeps ramping up, with the British Foreign Secretary now directly blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the chemical attack in Salisbury.

Britain has expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the poisoning, and Russia expelled British diplomats in response.

The United States, France and Germany on Thursday formally backed Britain's claims that Russian Federation likely was responsible for the attack, calling it the "first offensive use of a nerve agent" in Europe since World War II.

Moscow announced the measures on the eve of a presidential election which incumbent Vladimir Putin should comfortably win.

The ministry had also warned Britain that "if further unfriendly actions are taken towards Russia, the Russian side retains the right to take other answering measures".

The spy, 66-year-old Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were poisoned with a nerve agent identified by British authorities as one made only by Russian Federation. The British Embassy in Moscow told CNN it had been given a list of 23 specific individuals that were to be expelled from Russian Federation.

More news: Russian Federation to expel 23 British diplomats, close consulate general in St. Petersburg

"We will always do what is necessary to defend ourselves, our allies and our values against an attack of this sort, which is an attack not only on the United Kingdom, but upon the global rules-based system on which all countries, including Russian Federation, depend for their safety and security", Bristow told reporters. An officer who attempted to revive them remains in the hospital.

In comments to reporters after he left the Foreign Ministry, Bristow said the crisis had arisen because of "the attempted murder of two people using a chemical weapon developed in Russian Federation and not declared by Russian Federation". "Any reference or mentioning of our President is nothing else but shocking and unpardonable diplomatic misconduct".

Britain this week ordered 23 Russian diplomats to leave but Russia claims Britain has presented no evidence to back its allegations.

Russia's investigative committee said it had opened a criminal case investigation into the "attempted murder" of Skripal and "the murder" of Nikolai Glushkov, a Russian exile who was found dead in his home in London on Monday. An autopsy showed he died from "compression to the neck", the police said in a statement, adding that there was no evidence he had been poisoned or to link his death to the attack on the Skripals. It will also investigate the attack on Yulia Skripal, it said in a statement on its website.

A Russian lawmaker is warning Britain against escalating the crisis over the poisoning of a former Russian spy.

Russian Federation offered some cooperation to British authorities after the 2006 London murder of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko too.

"The onus remains on the Russian state to account for their actions and to comply with their global obligations". He was granted refuge in the UK after a high-profile spy exchange between the United States and Russian Federation in 2010.

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