Amid spy row, United Kingdom accuses Russian Federation of stockpiling a nerve agent

The Latest: Russia sees role for chemical weapons body

Russia hits back by expelling 23 British diplomats

Russia's envoy at the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog says Britain and the US both have access to the nerve agent used in the poisoning of the ex-spy in Britain.

"London is ready to provide Moscow with access to the Skripal and Glushkov cases", the British Foreign Secretary said.

The move followed Britain's decision on Wednesday to expel 23 Russian diplomats over the attack in the English city of Salisbury which left former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia Skripal, 33, critically ill in hospital.

He also said officials from the Netherlands-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would arrive Monday in Britain to take samples of the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals.

UK-Russian relations have seriously deteriorated over the Salisbury incident where former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious in a shopping center. They remain in critical condition.

Britain says it is Novichok, a class of powerful nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union toward the end of the Cold War.

Pressed on whether he believed Porton Down was "responsible" for the nerve agent, Mr Chizhov said: 'I don't know.

Russian Federation on Saturday announced it is expelling 23 British diplomats and threatened further measures in retaliation in a growing diplomatic dispute over a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain.

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Russia's ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, prompted a strong rebuttal when he suggested the poison may have come from the Porton Down laboratory, which is around eight miles from Salisbury. On Friday, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it was overwhelmingly likely that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself had made the decision to use a military-grade nerve toxin to strike down Skripal.

Western powers see the poisoning of the Skripals as the latest sign of increasingly aggressive Russian interference in foreign countries.

The statement said the government could take further measures if Britain takes any more "unfriendly" moves toward Russian Federation.

Asked at a news conference Friday about the measures Europe might take, Merkel said that "right now it's not about a boycott of the football World Cup, right now it's important that there's an investigation".

A Russian lawmaker warned Britain against escalating the crisis. Critics say United Kingdom authorities have been slow to investigate the origins of the wealth invested in London's financial district and property market.

Writing in the Sun on Sunday two weeks after the March 4 incident, Mr Johnson said of Saturday's expulsions: "These futile measures will only punish ordinary Russians by depriving them of harmless opportunities to learn English and apply for United Kingdom visas".

Mr Yakovenko called for restraint and "cooler heads", telling the paper: "This dispute is indeed escalating dangerously and out of proportion". "And this will continue, because this is our foreign policy: very aggressive and very unpleasant".

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