The Latest: Tillerson says ex-spy poisoning has Russia link
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain (all times local):
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Britain “clearly came from Russia” and “certainly will trigger a response.”
Tillerson says he doesn’t know whether Russia’s government had knowledge of the poisoning. But he is arguing the poison couldn’t have originated anywhere else. He says the substance is known to the U.S. and doesn’t exist widely. He says it’s “only in the hands of a very, very limited number of parties.”
Tillerson calls the poisoning “a really egregious act” and says it’s “almost beyond comprehension” that a state actor would use such a dangerous substance in a public place.
But he says he won’t elaborate on what response might follow.
Tillerson spoke to reporters on his aircraft as he flew from Nigeria to Washington.
Former Russian security officers who were charged in Britain with the 2006 slaying of an ex-Russian agent have scoffed at the claims of Russian involvement in the poisoning of another former spy in the U.K.
Britain has charged Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun with involvement in the killing of Alexander Litvinenko, who died after drinking tea containing radioactive polonium. They have denied the charges and remain in Russia.
Lugovoi and Kovtun said in remarks carried Monday by Russia’s Interfax news agency that the British claims over the recent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter are unsubstantiated.
Lugovoi, now a member of the Russian parliament, said British Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement blaming Russia was “irresponsible.”
The White House says the use of a highly lethal nerve agent against a former Russian spy and his daughter “is an outrage” but isn’t ready to say Russia was responsible.
Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that Washington has been monitoring the incident in England very closely. She says the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, was “reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible.”
Huckabee Sanders says the U.S. stands by its ally and is ready to offer assistance.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday that her government has concluded it is “highly likely” that Russia is responsible for the poisoning. May told British lawmakers that Skripal and his daughter were exposed to a nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War.
A former senior officer of Russia’s top security agency is dismissing the British suggestion of possible Russian involvement in the poisoning of an ex-spy, arguing that the move would make no sense for Moscow.
Alexander Mikhailov, a retired general of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the main KGB successor agency, rejected the statement by British Prime Minister Theresa May that Russia was “highly likely” responsible for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, as unfounded “propaganda” and “political hooliganism.”
Mikhailov told The Associated Press that the accusations are intended to cast Russia as an enemy serving domestic political purposes.
He argued that Russia released Skripal as part of a 2010 spy swap because he didn’t know any secrets, adding that the information he possessed was “hopelessly outdated.”
A senior Russian lawmaker says the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal was a “provocation” against Russia that could have been staged by British secret services.
Vladimir Dzhabarov, a deputy head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russian parliament, rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May’s claim of possible Russian involvement in Skripal’s death as “nonsense.”
He added that it would make no sense for Russia to attack the ex-spy, “whom no one needed” and who was swapped for Russian spies caught in the U.S. in a 2010 deal.
Dzhabarov alleged Monday that “secret services of Britain or some other countries might have staged the provocation with Skripal in order to smear Russia” in the run-up to Russia’s March 18 presidential election and the World Cup set to be hosted by Russia this summer.
A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry has dismissed Britain’s claim that Moscow was responsible for poisoning ex-spy Sergei Skripal as a “circus show.”
The ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies that the accusations against Russia represented “another information and political campaign based on a provocation.”
Zakharova described British Prime Minister Theresa May’s assertion that the evidence so far indicates Russian involvement was highly likely as “a circus show in the British Parliament.”
May told British lawmakers on Monday that Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were exposed to a nerve agent known as Novichok, a weapon developed in the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War
May said Monday that should Russian state involvement be proven, it would be considered an “unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom.” The British leader gave the Russian ambassador until the end of Tuesday to respond.
The widow of a former KGB agent who died after he defected to England says Britain should adopt a U.S. list sanctioning individuals from Russia suspected of committing crimes abroad.
Alexander Litvinenko died in November 2006, three weeks after drinking tea containing radioactive material. A U.K. public inquiry concluded in 2016 he’d been killed by Russia’s security service.
His widow, Marina Litvinenko told The Associated Press in an interview Monday that following the recent poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a Russian who spied for Britain, the U.K. should join other countries in targeting individuals named in the U.S. Magnitsky Act for sanctions.
She says other measures may also be necessary, but “when you allow these people to use your country for holiday, for buying property, to raise their children, it means you allow them to do everything.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May says her government has concluded it is “highly likely” Russia is responsible for the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter.
May told British lawmakers on Monday that Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were exposed to a nerve agent known as Novichok (Novice), a weapon developed in the Soviet Union in the end of the Cold War
May says the attack in a city in England fits a pattern of Russian aggression and that Russia’s ambassador to the U.K. has been summoned to explain what happened.
She said: “We will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil.”
Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition more than a week after they were found unconscious in Salisbury on March 4.
British Prime Minister Theresa May says the Russian ex-spy poisoned in England was exposed to a military-grade nerve agent of a type produced by Russia
May told lawmakers during an address in Parliament on Monday it was “highly likely’ Russia was responsible for poisoning Sergei Skripal, the former Russian military intelligence officer who was convicted of spying for Britain.
May says Russia’s ambassador to the U.K. has been summoned to explain how a Russian nerve agent turned up in Salisbury, the English city where Skripal and his adult daughter were sickened.
The British prime minister says if Moscow is proven to be behind the poisoning, her government will consider it an “unlawful use of force” by Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Britain should figure out what happened to ex-spy Sergei Skripal before blaming the poisoning on Russia.
Asked by a British reporter in southern Russia if Russia was behind the poisoning, Putin said in comments carried by Russian news wires on Monday: “You first get to the bottom of things over there, and after that we can discuss it.”
Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence officer who was convicted of spying in Britain and released from prison as part of a spy swap.
He and his daughter remain in critical condition following the March 4 nerve agent attack in England. Authorities haven’t said what nerve agent was used.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to update lawmakers later Monday on the case.
The Kremlin has rejected suggestions that it might be behind the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter that has left them in critical condition.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, told reporters that Sergei Skripal worked for British intelligence and was poisoned on British soil, and therefore the incident “has nothing to do with Russia, let alone the Russian leadership.” Peskov also said the Kremlin has not heard any official statements of Russian involvement.
Earlier Monday, senior British lawmaker Tom Tugendhat told the BBC the March 4 poisoning of Skripal and his daughter Yulia is looking “like it was state-sponsored attempted murder.” The British prime minister is chairing a National Security Council meeting later on Monday to hear the latest evidence.
A senior British lawmaker says the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter is “looking awfully like it was state-sponsored attempted murder.”
Tom Tugendhat told the BBC it is still too early to be absolutely certain. The chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee said he would be “surprised” if Prime Minister Theresa May does not end up blaming Russian officials for the attack.
He says the announcement may come soon. May is chairing a National Security Council meeting Monday to hear the latest evidence.
Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in critical condition following the March 4 nerve agent attack.
Officials have not said what nerve agent was used or who is to blame.
The 66-year-old Skripal worked for Russian military intelligence before he was recruited to spy for Britain.