On Monday, Britain’s prime minister said it was “highly likely” that Moscow is to blame for the poisoning of a former Russian spy, who was attacked with a nerve agent at a restaurant in southern England. She then warned that there may be reprisals.
Traces of the agent used in the attack were found in the Salisbury restaurant where Skripal and his daughter Yulia, were poisoned, causing public alarm and a massive investigation effort before British health officials concluded that the risk to public health was low.
Following a troubling weekend, May spoke in the House of Commons Monday, saying: “It is now clear that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. The government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.”
From The New York Times: The remarks by Prime Minister Theresa May, delivered in an address to Parliament, were an unusually direct condemnation of a country that Britain has, in the past, been loath to blame for attacks on its soil. Critics say the British authorities took only modest countermeasures after Russian agents poisoned a former MI6 informant in 2006 with a rare isotope, polonium 210.
The prime minister, who as home secretary resisted an open inquiry into Russia’s role in that case, was under pressure to show more resolve this time.
The March 4 nerve agent attack on Sergei V. Skripal, once an informant for Britain’s foreign intelligence service, and his daughter, Yulia, occurred in and around public spaces in the city of Salisbury. Almost two dozen people, including emergency workers, were given medical treatment, and one police officer is still hospitalized.
May said the poisoning was either a“direct act of the Russian state against our country” or that Moscow no longer had control of its nerve agent, allowing it to fall into the hands of others.
May also said the Russian ambassador had been asked for an explanation, which Britain expects to receive on Tuesday.
Russia has denied responsibility.