Probe into Skripal poisoning follows Litvinenko script - Russia's embassy

Danny Woods
March 11, 2018

Military chemical warfare personnel are among the almost 200 troops sent to Salisbury to help with the investigation into the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

On Friday, police called in about 180 marines, soldiers and air force personnel with expertise in chemical weapons, decontamination and logistics to help with the probe and to remove vehicles that might be contaminated. Also in the scene were hospitalized police Sergeant nick Bailey.

Commentators said police were exploring the theory that the former Russian spy and his daughter, who was reportedly visiting from Moscow, were exposed to the nerve agent at the house.

He was pardoned before being flown to Britain as part of a high-profile spy swap involving Russian Federation and the United States in 2010.

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised an "appropriate" response if it is discovered that Russian Federation is responsible for poisoning Skripal, but has urged caution.

"In terms of further options, that will have to wait until we're absolutely clear what the consequences could be and what the actual source of this nerve agent has been", Rudd said.

In addition to his home and vehicle, police have cordoned off the cemetery where Skripal's wife is buried as well as The Mill pub in Salisbury.

Health chiefs have said there is a low risk to the wider public from the nerve agent used against the Skripals, who police said were deliberately targeted with the rare toxin.

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Russian media have mocked suggestions that Moscow was involved in the Skripal attack - but also noted that those who betray Russia seem to come to a bad end. They said experts had identified the substance, which will help determine the source, but they did not name it publicly.

"The profession of a traitor is one of the most risky in the world", said the presenter, Kirill Kleimenov, adding: "Don't choose Britain as a place to live".

In a statement to members of Parliament, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd refused to be drawn on who might have been responsible. "We will take any necessary actions, but we need to ensure the police have the space to carry out the investigation".

Earlier this week, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in London described comments by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - who vowed a "robust response" in the event that state involvement was proved - as "strongly anti-Russian".

There is a new lead in the nerve agent poisoning of the former Russian General Staff Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU) officer, convicted for espionage in favor of Great Britain in Russia.

On Friday, police launched an inquiry in the cemetery where Skripal's Russian's wife and son were laid to rest.

Following the incident, several media reports indicated that the United Kingdom police was carrying out the exhumation of bodies as part of a probe into the poisoning of Skripal.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave his high-level assessment saying, "This is not serious; this is pure propaganda and the whipping-up of hysteria".

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