Russia ignores UK’s deadline to explain whether it was behind spy poisoning

Russia has refused to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used in an attack on a former spy on the streets of Britain.

Prime Minister Theresa May gave the Russian government until midnight today to explain any involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

But midnight came and went without word from Russia.

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

Yesterday foreign minister Sergei Lavrov described claims of his country’s involvement as "rubbish" and the embassy sent out a series of scathing tweets that directly threatened the UK.

It said it would refuse to respond to "London’s ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance to which the UK investigators are referring".

Double agent Mr Skripal, 66, and Yulia, 33, were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire after eating at the city centre Zizzi on March 4.

The pair are critically ill and police have confirmed that a total of 38 people have required hospital treatment since the attack on ten days ago.

Mrs May’s ultimatum came came as another Russian exile was found dead on British soil.

Counter-terror police launched a probe into the death of anti-Putin exile Nikolai Glushkov whose body was discovered in his south west London home on Monday night.

Glushkov was reportedly close friends with the oligarch Boris Berezovsky , who died in mysterious circumstances in 2013.

US President Donald Trump and Mrs May have agreed on the "need for consequences for those who use these heinous weapons in flagrant violation of international norms".

A White House spokesman said: "President Trump stated the United States stands in solidarity with its closest ally and is ready to provide any assistance the United Kingdom requests for its investigation.

"President Trump agreed with Prime Minister May that the Government of the Russian Federation must provide unambiguous answers regarding how this chemical weapon, developed in Russia, came to be used in the United Kingdom.

"The two leaders agreed on the need for consequences for those who use these heinous weapons in flagrant violation of international norms."

Yesterday the Russian embassy said its country will take action if the British Government continues to suggest it was involved in the poisoning of former MI6 informant Skripal .

In seven tweets the embassy said Russia will not co-operate with the UK inquiry into how Mr Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned in Salisbury, until it has been given a sample of the substance used.

It added: "Any threat to take ‘punitive’ measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that."

In another tweet the embassy stated: "Britain must comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention which stipulates joint investigation into the incident, for which Moscow is ready."

Another said: "Without that, there can be no sense in any statements from London. The incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia."

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