Putin calls claims Russia poisoned ex-spy 'nonsense,' 'delirium'

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says the United Kingdom has evidence Russia has been creating and stockpiling the ...

Posted: Mar 19, 2018 12:23 PM
Updated: Mar 19, 2018 12:23 PM

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says the United Kingdom has evidence Russia has been creating and stockpiling the nerve agent Novichok over the last decade.

This assertion comes amid Moscow's claims that the nation had no hand in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter on March 4 in the English city of Salisbury.

Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in critical condition after being attacked with a nerve agent the UK identified as Novichok. The assault stoked British rage over what UK Prime Minister Theresa May called "a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil."

"We actually had evidence within the last 10 years that Russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination but also has been creating and stockpiling Novichok," said Johnson, interviewed Sunday on BBC's "The Andrew Marr Show."

Johnson said technical experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will travel to Britain on Monday and will test samples of the substance used in the Salisbury poisoning in an international laboratory. The OPCW, based in The Hague, implements the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Novichok, which means "newcomer" in Russian, was developed in secret by the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1980s, as a means of countering US chemical weapons defenses.

Its existence remained secret until the mid-'90s, when information regarding its production was revealed as part of a deliberate leak by disgruntled Soviet scientist and whistle-blower Vil Mirzayanov. Even today, no country outside Russia is known to have developed the substance.

Russian denials

Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov suggested Porton Down, the UK's chemical weapons research facility, might be behind the March 4 attack, although he said he has no evidence of that.

"When you have a nerve agent or whatever you check it against certain samples that you retain in your laboratory," Chizhov told the BBC on Sunday. "And Porton Down, as we now all know, is the largest military facility in the United Kingdom that has been dealing with chemical weapons research and is actually only 8 miles from Salisbury."

But when asked whether Porton Down was responsible for the attack on the Skripals, Chizhov said, "I don't know, I don't have evidence of anything being used."

Chizhov said Britain's case is "based on assumptions, based on suspicions, fueled by emotions" and said Skripal is a traitor and "almost forgotten" back home.

The British government website says Porton Down produces "very small quantities of chemical and biological agents" so scientists can "develop effective medical countermeasures." It says they are stored securely and disposed of safely when no longer required.

'Two plausible explanations'

Last week, May said the use of the "military grade" nerve agent was an "indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk. And we will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil."

Johnson was asked about one point May told lawmakers: that there were only "two plausible explanations" for the attack.

"Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others," May said.

Johnson said Sunday that Russia's reaction to the incident "was not the response of a country that really believes itself to be innocent. This is not the response of a country that really wants to engage in getting to the bottom of the matter."

"We gave the Russians every opportunity to come up with an alternative hypothesis, such as the one that you have just described, and they haven't. Their response has been a sort of mixture of smug sarcasm and denial, obfuscation and delay."

On Friday, Johnson said it was "overwhelmingly likely" that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally gave the order to use the nerve agent to attack Skripal. On Sunday, Johnson wrote that Britain is not alone in facing Russia's "reckless behavior."

In an op-ed Sunday for The Sun, Johnson said the Salisbury poisoning was the "latest brazen defiance of international rules" citing the Crimea annexation, cyberattacks in Ukraine, and Russia's interference in European elections.

Tit for tat responses

Russia's Foreign Ministry ordered the expulsion of 23 British diplomats from Russia on Saturday in response to Britain's decision to expel Russian envoys in connection with the Skripal case.

The ministry also declared it was closing the British Consulate General in St. Petersburg and the British Council in Russia, in a step beyond the measures taken by Britain. The British Council is a cultural institute with artistic, language and educational programs.

The UK diplomats have a week to leave, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, adding that its actions came "in response to the provocative actions of the British side and groundless accusations" against Russia over the Salisbury attack.

France, Germany and the United States joined the United Kingdom on Thursday in condemning the attack.

West Lafayette
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 84°
Kokomo
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 80°
Rensselaer
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 80°
Fowler
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 80°
Williamsport
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 83°
Crawfordsville
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 79°
Frankfort
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 80°
Delphi
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 81°
Monticello
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 81°
Logansport
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 81°
Hotter & turning much more humid for the weekend.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 72254

Reported Deaths: 3023
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15503725
Lake7447274
Elkhart476082
Allen3789161
St. Joseph337381
Hamilton2668105
Vanderburgh188813
Hendricks1833106
Cass17749
Johnson1719118
Porter126639
Clark117846
Tippecanoe117711
Madison91565
LaPorte88330
Howard87265
Kosciusko84012
Marshall77122
Bartholomew76647
Floyd76045
Monroe72230
Delaware70152
Dubois67612
Boone66246
Noble65929
Hancock64138
Vigo58610
Jackson5725
Warrick57030
LaGrange55610
Shelby54227
Grant52130
Dearborn49328
Morgan45934
Clinton4093
Henry37320
Wayne35410
White35410
Montgomery34821
Lawrence33627
Decatur33232
Harrison32123
Putnam2868
Miami2672
Daviess26320
Scott26310
Greene24634
Franklin23813
Jasper2272
DeKalb2264
Jennings22012
Gibson2144
Steuben2063
Ripley1977
Fayette1837
Perry18112
Carroll1772
Starke1767
Posey1670
Orange16624
Wabash1633
Wells1622
Fulton1612
Jefferson1552
Whitley1506
Knox1490
Tipton1336
Spencer1313
Washington1311
Huntington1213
Newton11510
Randolph1154
Clay1095
Sullivan1031
Adams952
Jay860
Owen841
Pulaski761
Rush744
Brown731
Fountain682
Blackford622
Ohio624
Benton600
Pike520
Parke511
Vermillion500
Switzerland450
Crawford440
Martin430
Union370
Warren221
Unassigned0202

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events