LONDON – The spy poisoning row escalated on Thursday as leaders of France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement blaming Russia for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter.
“We, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom, abhor the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, UK, on March 4, 2018,” China’s Xinhua news agency said quoting a statement.
The four countries called on Russia to provide full and complete disclosure of its Novichok nerve agent programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Novichok is a military grade nerve agent which was found at the scene of the poisoning incident, according to the UK government.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday that the UK had refused to cooperate with Russia “on the fulfillment of its duties as a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
Russia will soon take retaliatory measures against the UK regarding the spy attack row, she said.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday announced a series of measures against Russia over its failure to respond to demands to explain how a military grade nerve agent was used in the attack.
The measures included the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats in a week, the freezing of Russian state assets in the UK, the suspension of all planned high level bilateral contacts and the boycott of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia by ministers and the royal family.
A row between London and Moscow erupted following the murder attempt on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal,66, and his daughter Yulia,33.
Sergei and Yulia were found slumped unconscious on a bench outside a shopping mall in Salisbury, southwest of London on March 4. They remain in critical condition in a hospital.
London said the pair was exposed to a nerve agent and Russia is responsible for the attack. Moscow has vehemently denied responsibility for the poisoning incident. -BERNAMA