By Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov, (c) 2018, Bloomberg
Russia rejected a British ultimatum to come clean over a suspected chemical weapon attack on its former double agent in the United Kingdom as it braced for threatened reprisals.
“This is all nonsense, we’ve got nothing to do with this,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday. “Before issuing ultimatums to report to the British government within 24 hours, it would have been better to observe your obligations under international law.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May, in a dramatic statement Monday to Parliament, said that ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned just over a week ago with a “military grade” nerve agent known as Novichok that was developed in the Soviet Union. She gave Russian President Vladimir Putin until midnight Tuesday to respond to the charges or face retaliation.
The crisis over the attempted murder, which comes just days before Sunday’s elections in which Putin is coasting toward a fourth term, threatens to further strain relations between Russia and the West. The United Kingdom has been rallying support for punitive measures from the United States and its allies in Europe, but with mixed results so far.
Russia expects diplomatic expulsions, though more drastic measures such as cutting Russian banks off from the Swift payment system are seen as unlikely, one person close to the Kremlin said.
Lavrov called on the U.K. to provide Russia samples of the poison and full access to the investigation.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday branded Russia an “irresponsible force of instability in the world” and said those who ordered and carried out the crime must face consequences. Less than 24 hours later, President Donald Trump announced in a tweet that Tillerson had been removed from his post, to be replaced by Mike Pompeo, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Tensions are also flaring as the U.S. threatens to take action in Syria, where Russian ally Bashar al-Assad is pursuing a bloody offensive against a rebel-held bastion outside the capital Damascus in defiance of international calls for a humanitarian cease-fire.
Skripal, 66, who was found unconscious March 4 with his 33-year-old daughter, on a bench in Salisbury, western England, spied for the U.K. for a decade while working for Russian military intelligence. He was sent to Britain in 2010 in a spy swap.
In a state-television documentary released Sunday, Putin said he can …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News