Russia’s foreign minister demanded Tuesday access to samples of a nerve agent that British investigators suspect was linked to Moscow in an attack against a former Russian double agent and his daughter.
The foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, also said Russia does not intend to comply with British Prime Minister Theresa May’s demand for an official explanation on the claims over the nerve agent, later identified as Novichok, which is believed developed by the former Soviet Union.
Lavrov insisted that Russian experts should be able to examine the British evidence, but against denied Russian involvement in last week’s attack.
On Monday, May challenged Russia to provide an official explanation for the alleged use of a deadly nerve agent in the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the town of Salisbury. Both remain in a coma.
May claimed the chemical, which is believed to be unique to Russia, made Moscow’s complicity “highly likely.”
According to the Interfax news agency, Lavrov denied that Russia had anything to do with Skripal’s poisoning and reiterated Moscow’s willingness to cooperate if information related to the nature of the chemical agent was shared with Russia.
Lavrov claimed Britain has an obligation to share forensic data under the Convention for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Russia also summoned the British ambassador, Laurie Bristow, following the allegations, Interfax reported.
“Before delivering ultimatums to report to the British government within 24 hours,” Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow, “it is better to comply with your own obligations under international law – in this case the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.”
Earlier, Russia’s Foreign Ministry and pro-Kremlin lawmakers derided Britain on Tuesday amid a deepening showdown.
May said Russia either engaged in a direct attack against Britain or lost control of the nerve agent it developed. Britain will not tolerate such a “brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil,” she warned.
The British leader stopped short of announcing retaliatory actions, saying she would give Russia a chance to respond to her government’s findings and would return to Parliament on Wednesday with a plan for specific action.
But in her remarks, May described a “reckless” and “indiscriminate” attack against Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33. A police officer also remains hospitalized.
Special to The Washington Post · Matthew Bodner