Russian diplomat hints UK lab could be nerve agent source

Britains Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement on Britains response to a March 4 nerve attack on a former Russian double agent following a meeting of Britains National Security Council in the House of Commons in central London

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Moscow's "malign, disruptive behaviour" internationally was the reason why allies were "inclined not to give Russian Federation the benefit of the doubt", he added.

Zakharova said the West is trying to "distract attention from what they did in Syria and Iraq" and that Britain "needs to somehow show the world that Russian Federation is not in fact a peacekeeper but is playing its own game".

Suggestions by Russia's ambassador to the European Union that the poisoning could have been carried out by Britain were dismissed as "satirical".

Sky sources have also said authorities are investigating whether the nerve agent used in the attack was administered via the ventilation system in Russian Mr Skripal's auto.

Britain and Russian Federation have each expelled 23 diplomats over the attack as relations between the two countries crash to a post-Cold War low.

The Foreign Ministry further said that there was a disparity in the number of consulates of the two countries and Russian Federation withdrew permission to open the British Consulate General in St. Petersburg.

Mr Chizhov told the BBC that Mr Skripal could "rightly be referred to as a traitor" but "from the legal point of view the Russian state had nothing against him".

However, Russia's ambassador to the United Kingdom warned the dispute was escalating "dangerously and out of proportion" and the country reserved the right to take "further retaliatory measures" if more sanctions are implemented. The police agency declined to comment on new details about the nerve agent attack until it releases information publicly.

In retaliation, Kiev said earlier this week Russians living in Ukraine would not be able to vote as access to Moscow's diplomatic missions would be blocked.

But pressed on whether he was suggesting Porton Down was "responsible" for the nerve agent in the attack, Mr Chizhov said: "I don't know".

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British Prime Minister Theresa May said last Monday that it is "highly likely" that Russian Federation was behind the attack in conclusion that came after tests carried out at the Porton Down military facilities.

The incident revived memories of the fate of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian dissident who died of Polonium radiation poisoning in a 2006 attack in Britain that London blamed on Moscow.

"It is possible that (Britain) will continue to respond; we are ready for this".

He said the reaction across the Government, Parliament and the wider country had been "hugely encouraging" but he hit out at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who came under fire on Wednesday after failing to offer explicit support for the Prime Minister's approach in the House of Commons.

Sunday marked four years since Putin signed a treaty that declared Crimea part of Russian Federation following its annexation from Ukraine, a move that led to the outbreak of a pro-Kremlin insurgency in the east of the ex-Soviet country, in a conflict that claimed more than 10,000 lives.

After the expulsion of diplomats, the consulate department of the Russian embassy will be hurt most, he noted.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the House of Commons on her government's reaction to the poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, in London, March 14, 2018. They remain in critical condition in hospital.

"It's just another futile attempt from the Russian state to divert the story away from the facts - that Russia has acted in flagrant breach of its global obligations", a spokesperson said.

Navalny, who was convicted for embezzling funds, denounced the elections and is calling for a boycott: "The procedure in which we are invited to participate is not an election; it involves only Putin and those candidates whom he personally chose, who do not pose a slightest threat to him".

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