UK, allies point finger at Russia in ex-spy poisoning


London: Britain will hold new emergency talks on Tuesday into the brazen nerve agent poisoning of a Russian former double agent on its soil, after the US and NATO backed London in implicating Moscow in the assassination attempt.
As diplomatic tensions soar, Russia has denied accusations of its involvement in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in southwest England on March 4.
British Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament it was “highly likely” Moscow was behind the poisoning, giving Russia until the end of Tuesday to answer the accusations, in comments that have stoked speculation Britain could call on its allies to mount a joint response.
Both the United States and NATO issued statements in support of London, as concern mounts over the use of what May described as a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia.
Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, remain in a critical condition in hospital after being found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in Salisbury.
Emergency workers in biohazard suits have been deployed in the normally sleepy city, while some 500 people who may have come into minimal contact with the nerve agent were urged to wash clothes and belongings as a precaution.
May told British lawmakers that Moscow had previously used the group of nerve agents, known as Novichok, had a history of state-sponsored assassinations and viewed defectors such as Skripal as legitimate targets.
“The government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal,” she said.