Boris Johnson has hit out out at Russia over the “absurd” denials of involvement in the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury. Speaking to the press in Brussels the foreign minister had a message for Moscow: “They’re not fooling anyone”.
Arriving at a meeting with EU foreign affairs ministers in Brussels on Monday morning, Boris Johnson told the press of the “increasingly absurd” admissions made by the Russian government.
“One time they say they never made Novichok and another time they say they did make Novichok but all of the stocks have been destroyed, but some of them have mysteriously escaped to Sweden or the Czech Republic or Slovakia or the United States or even the United Kingdom,” Johnson said. “Twelve years after the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London – they’re not fooling anybody anymore.”
Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, did not hold back, lashing out at the UK and accusing them of “incomprehensible, unreasonable slander” against allegations, previously made by Johnson, that Putin had ordered the attack on ex-Russian double agent Sergei Skripal.
“Sooner or later, it will have to account for these baseless allegations, either by backing them up with evidence or by offering its apologies,” Peskov said.
On Monday, the UK is set to hand samples of the nerve agent used in Skripal’s poisoning to a UN watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Johnson accused Russia on Sunday of creating and storing the ‘Novichok’ nerve agent, which London says was used in the attack on Skripal. The UK official claimed that the UK has “evidence… collected over the past 10 years” that Moscow has been developing nerve agents “for the purpose of committing murder.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed the allegation that the substance, thought to be a Soviet-era invention, was a Russian “project.” She said that in post-Soviet times, countries such as the UK, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and even the US studied the substance with keen interest and could have been the origin for the toxin used in the incident with Skripal and his daughter.
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