Russian embassy casts doubt on Skripal statement

Tomáš Valášek

My letter to the NATO Secretary General @jensstoltenberg with more information on Russian responsibility for Salisbury attack following @OPCW report confirming the nerve agent.

While her whereabouts are unknown, Skripal said she is being supported by police officers who are keeping her informed of their high-profile investigation.

A diplomatic battle has been raging between the United Kingdom and Moscow about whether the Russian embassy should be allowed access to the 33-year-old daughter of ex-spy Sergei Skripal.

In it, Sedwill alleged Russia's GRU military intelligence service had its cyber experts break into Yulia's email in 2013.

The UK government said Russian Federation was behind the poisoning, but Moscow has denied any involvement and accused the British of inventing a "fake story".

Sedwill's letter to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief detailed the grounds on which British authorities hold Russian Federation responsible of a suspected nerve agent attack targeting Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury six weeks ago.

The claims come after the worldwide Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons backed Britain's assertion the Skripals were poisoned by Novichok.

"It is highly likely that the Russian intelligence services view at least some of its defectors as legitimate targets for defection", Sedwill wrote. Novichok (Russian for "newcomer") was originally developed and created by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s.

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"The code word used for the offensive chemical weapons programme (of which the Novichoks were one part) was FOLIANT", he said.

The worldwide chemical weapons watchdog has said an analysis of samples gathered from Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal, and detective sergeant Nick Bailey - who was affected during the emergency response - confirmed the U.K.'s assessment of the incident.

"Within the last decade, Russian Federation has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks", Sedwill added. Only one state and/or its agents had a motive for assassinating Sergei Skripal and to do so in a manner where the method speaks so clearly.

The woman was discharged from hospital on Monday, more than a month after the nerve agent attack.

The lethal poison that struck down Yulia and her father was a highly pure type of Novichok nerve agent, the global chemical weapons watchdog concluded on Thursday, backing Britain's findings.

He said: "We get the impression the British Government is deliberately pursuing the policy of destroying all possible evidence".

Zakharova added there were doubts that a recent statement by Yulia Skripal was authentic.

Putin's man in London also mentioned Syria, reiterating claims the latest chemical attack on civilians in Douma was staged by rebel groups to draw the West into the war.

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