4th March, Salisbury – a 66-year-old Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal was found along with his 33-year-old daughter Yulia on a bench near The Maltings shopping center in Salisbury at 4:15pm. Both had no visible injuries but were suffering from the poisoning of a nerve agent knows as Novichok (Novice).
“Novichok” is a series of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. They were known as fourth-generation chemical weapons and were developed under a Soviet programme codenamed Foliant. Novichoks were designed to be more toxic than other chemical weapons, so some versions would begin to take effect rapidly – 30 seconds to two minutes. The main route of exposure is likely to be through inhalation, though they could also be absorbed through the skin. However, in powder form an agent might take longer to cause a reaction.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter were rushed to the Salisbury District Hospital immediately in critical condition.
On March 6th, police took control of the investigation and Prime Minister Theresa May said the couple had been poisoned and it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible. She gave Moscow until midnight on Tuesday to provide an explanation or warned it would face “extensive measures”.
The next day, Scotland Yard confirmed in a statement that the first responding police officer is now also critically ill in hospital. All three are in a coma.
Lack of justification. Russia’s response.
Russia has officially requested the justification; however, Scotland Yard has refused to provide it. In this case, Prime Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow is not going to respond to any UK blames regarding Skripal’s case until they not receive a sample of toxic material. Nobody can blame a country only because this toxic material was originally developed in this particular country.
Igor Morozov, a member of the Soviet Federation, confirmed that Russia has completely got rid of the last kilogram of “Novichok” toxic in September 2017 and the production of it stopped in the 90s. It is quite probable that toxic and other similar substances still might be stored in any other post-Soviet Union country, including Ukraine.
UK is to expel 23 Russian diplomats
Moscow refused to meet Mrs May’s midnight deadline to co-operate in the case, prompting Mrs May to announce a series of measures intended to send a “clear message” to Russia. These include:
- Expelling 23 diplomats
- Increasing checks on private flights, customs and freight
- Freezing Russian state assets where there is evidence they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents
- Ministers and the Royal Family boycotting the Fifa World Cup in Russia later this year
- Suspending all planned high-level bilateral contacts between the UK and Russia
- Plans to consider new laws to increase defences against “hostile state activity”
Mrs May told MPs that Russia had provided “no explanation” as to how the nerve agent came to be used in the UK, describing Moscow’s response as one of “sarcasm, contempt and defiance”.