'Embarrassing': Social Media Abuzz Over Russia Not Identified as Novichok Source

Cheryl Sanders
April 4, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also called for a "thorough inquiry" into the incident.

Russian Federation has denied responsibility for the 4 March attack on the Skripals, with foreign minister Sergey Lavrov even suggesting that it might have been carried out by the British authorities as a means of distracting voters from its difficulties with Brexit.

He said that his researchers were able to identify what the agent is, what "particular family" it came from and that it is military grade but insisted "it is not our job to say where it was manufactured".

Scientists at Britain's top military laboratory said Tuesday they can not prove that the nerve agent used to poison a former Russian double agent and his daughter in southern England came from Russia.

Aitkenhead said on Tuesday the attack with the highly toxic Novichok nerve agent was "probably only within the capabilities of a state actor" because of the "extremely sophisticated methods" required to produce it.

Other elements, it said, include "our knowledge that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents probably for assassination - and as part of this program has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks; Russia's record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views former intelligence officers as targets".

Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, told Sky News that researchers were able to identify the substance used in the attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal as a military-grade nerve agent known as Novichok, a class of chemical weapons developed by the former Soviet Union and Russian Federation.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow expects an apology.

The Foreign Office responded that they still believed Russian Federation was behind the attack because of the wider "intelligence picture".

Porton Down's identification of the substance used in the attack on the Skripals as Novichok was a key plank in the evidence presented by the United Kingdom in Theresa May's successful bid to recruit worldwide support in the dispute with Moscow, resulting in the expulsion of more than 100 Russian diplomats from over 20 countries.

Moscow has rejected those claims, saying that it never produced the agent dubbed Novichok in the West and completed the destruction of its Soviet-era chemical weapons stockpiles a year ago under worldwide oversight.

In comments reported by Russian news agencies, Mr Grushko said the attempted murders could have been "arranged by Britain" because "they need a major enemy".

"There is no way anything like that could have come from us or left the four walls of our facility", he said.

"We've got the highest levels of security and controls".

Yulia's condition improved significantly last week and she is now said to be conscious and talking. The UK Government's claims about Russia's role in the Skripal case looked like a clear bluff from the very beginning, a spokesperson for the Russian embassy in London said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Turkey, Putin said he hoped a line could be drawn under the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal at a meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog on Wednesday.

The Russian ambassador to Ireland, Yury Filatov, was the latest to join the criticism from Russia over the UK's handing of the aftermath of the attack.

Officials in Moscow have alternatively said that Prime Minister Theresa May and British investigators rushed to judgement, or bungled the investigation, or more insidiously, that Britain or other unknown actors were somehow involved in the attack - that they used a Novichok nerve agent to smear the Russians.

Other reports by iNewsToday