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Britain's top diplomat says Russia's Vladimir Putin ordered ex-spy's poisoning

Britain's top diplomat says Russia's Vladimir Putin ordered ex-spy's poisoning

London says the Russian state is responsible for trying to kill Sergei Skripal a former Russian intelligence officer who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain's MI6 with Novichok, a lethal nerve agent developed by the Soviet military.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russian Federation would respond by expelling British diplomats "soon".

Moscow is expected to expel a number of British diplomats in response to the expulsion of 23 diplomats from the UK.

It said Russian Federation closed all Soviet-era chemical weapons programmes in 1992 and some of the scientists involved were flown to other countries, including the UK. Putin discussed relations with Britain at a meeting of Russia's Security Council, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

In a joint statement, they demanded Moscow "address all questions" related to the attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, which they said amounted to a "breach of worldwide law". He added that his administration was taking the attack "very seriously".

"It is an assault on United Kingdom sovereignty and any such use by a state party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of global law".

Mirzayanov revealed details of Russia's chemical weapons in the 1990s because he said he was afraid of their impact.

Russian Federation has denied an involvement in the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, who remain hospitalized and in critical condition.

Russian investigators said on Friday they had opened a criminal investigation into the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal and offered to cooperate with British authorities.

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Russia says it will retaliate against Britain's recently announced sanctions, saying that President Vladimir Putin will soon decide the best way to respond to the U.K.'s expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats.

US President Donald Trump had pressed Russian Federation to provide answers but did not suggest that Moscow had a hand in the attempted murder.

British police said Friday 131 people were exposed to trace amounts of the military-grade nerve agent used in the assault.

"I can confirm again, Britain has not provided to Russian Federation any information, any details that might shed some light on the situation", Ms Zakharova said. They are both in critical condition.

He said even the name Novichok was a "Western invention" and that Russian Federation never gave it a name.

Putin, a former KGB spy who is poised to win a fourth term in an election on Sunday, has so far only said publicly that Britain should get to the bottom of what has happened.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made the statement in what is being seen as a direct accusation against Putin and Russian Federation.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Britain could count on NATO's solidarity, but that it had not invoked the alliance's mutual defence clause. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officials have suggested that the nerve agent attack probably does not rise to that level.

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