The Latest: Russia warns UK over ultimatums, points at nukes - InfoNews

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The Latest: Russia warns UK over ultimatums, points at nukes

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street after Prime Minister Theresa May summoned people to a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) to be briefed on the latest intelligence on the nerve agent poisoning attack on Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, in London Monday March 12, 2018. Prime Minister Theresa May updated lawmakers on Monday on the nerve-agent poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)
March 13, 2018 - 12:18 PM

LONDON - The Latest on the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain (all times local):

7:10 p.m.

The Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman has warned Britain against putting ultimatums to Russia, reminding the U.K. about its nuclear arsenal.

Maria Zakharova said in televised remarks Tuesday that "no one can come to parliament and say: 'I give Russia 24 hours,'" a reference to British Prime Minister Theresa May giving Russia a deadline to explain how a Russia-designed nerve agent could have been used to poison former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Russia has denied involvement and said it won't respond to a British ultimatum unless it gets samples of the nerve agent in line with rules of the international chemical weapons watchdog.

Zakharova said Britain mustn't try to scare Russia and pointed to Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent speech in which he presented a range of new nuclear weapons.

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6:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says Russia must provide "unambiguous answers" on how a Russian-developed poison was used in England against a former Russian military intelligence officer who spied for Britain.

Trump spoke by telephone on Tuesday with British Prime Minister Theresa May. The White House says Trump agreed with May that the Russian government must provide "unambiguous answers" on how the chemical came to be used in Britain.

The White House says May and Trump also agreed on the need for "consequences" for those who use "heinous weapons in flagrant violation of international norms."

May told British lawmakers on Monday it is "highly likely" that Russia is to blame for the attack this month on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury this month.

British police and intelligence reports say the Skripals were poisoned by a military grade nerve agent produced in Russia.

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6:15 p.m.

Britain says U.S. President Donald Trump has assured Prime Minister Theresa May that the U.S. is "with the U.K. all the way" and said Russia must provide clear answers about the nerve-agent poisoning of a former spy.

May's office says Trump and the British leader spoke by phone on Tuesday afternoon.

Downing Street says May reiterated Britain's view that "it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal."

It says Trump "said the U.S. was with the U.K. all the way, agreeing that the Russian government must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used."

Russia says it will not meet a British deadline of midnight Tuesday to provide answers unless the U.K. shares samples of the nerve agent

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6:00 p.m.

Russia's Foreign Ministry has sternly warned Britain against shutting the office of Russian state-funded RT television, saying it will lead to the closure of British media's bureaus in Moscow.

The ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said in televised remarks Tuesday that "not a single British media outlet will be able to work in our country if they close RT."

Zakharova's statement came in response to a warning by British media regulator Ofcom that RT could be stripped of its broadcasting license in the U.K. in the wake of the nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal.

Britain has given Russia until midnight Tuesday to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent came to be used in an English city, or face retaliatory measures.

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5:40 p.m.

The Russian Embassy in London says Moscow won't respond to a British ultimatum unless it gets samples of the nerve agent used in the attack on a former spy and his daughter.

The embassy posted the comment Tuesday on Twitter after Russia suggested that Britain has a duty under the chemical weapons treaty to jointly investigate the nerve agent. Britain has rejected such a notion.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said Russia's involvement in the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a Russian who spied for Britain, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, is "highly likely."

May gave the country a deadline of midnight Tuesday to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent came to be used in an English city, or face retaliatory measures.

The embassy tweeted: "Moscow will not respond to London's ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance to which the UK investigators are referring."

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5:15 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Russia must provide "quick answers to the legitimate questions posed by the British government" about the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter.

Merkel's office said the German leader spoke by phone on Tuesday with British Prime Minister Theresa May and condemned the nerve agent attack "in the sharpest manner."

The chancellor assured May that she took Britain's assessment about Russia's likely responsibility for the attack "extraordinarily seriously."

Merkel urged Russia to "comprehensively and immediately" reveal its chemical weapons program to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

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4:30 p.m.

A lawyer says a Russian businessman who had associated with a prominent critic of the Kremlin who died in London in 2013 also has been found dead in the British capital.

Andrei Borovkov told Russian media outlets on Tuesday that his client, Nikolai Glushkov, has died, but said he was unaware of the time and circumstances.

Reports in British and Russian media say Glushkov, who was in his late 60s, was found dead at his home in southwest London.

London's Metropolitan Police force says officers are investigating the "unexplained" death of a man found at a house in the New Malden area late Monday. It did not identify him by name.

Glushkov was a friend of Boris Berezovsky, a Russian oligarch who died in London in 2013. An inquest failed to determine whether he had killed himself or died from foul play.

London police say counterterrorism detectives are leading the investigation "as a precaution because of associations that the man is believed to have had."

Police say there is no evidence to suggest a link to the March 4 poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

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3:50 p.m.

Britain's representative to the global chemical weapons watchdog says Russia has "failed for many years to declare chemical weapons development programs which date from the 1970s" and London has demanded that Moscow now "come clean."

Ambassador Peter Wilson told reporters Tuesday that London wants "Russia to declare these programs now."

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday that a military-grade nerve agent was used in the attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia, and that Russia was "highly likely" to blame.

Wilson also refuted a claim by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Britain would be breaching the treaty that outlaws chemical weapons if it refuses to share with Moscow samples of the nerve agent.

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3:35 p.m.

Britain's media regulator says Kremlin-backed news channel RT could lose its license to broadcast in the U.K. in the wake of the nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal.

The channel has repeatedly been criticized by regulator Ofcom for breaching impartiality standards, and some British lawmakers have called for it to be shut down.

The regulator said Tuesday that it has a duty "to be satisfied that broadcast licensees remain fit and proper to hold their licenses."

Ofcom said it had written to ANO TV Novosti, which holds RT's U.K. broadcast licenses, saying that if Russia is found to be behind the attack, "we would consider this relevant to our ongoing duty to be satisfied that RT is fit and proper."

Britain has given Russia until midnight Tuesday to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent came to be used in an English city, or face retaliatory measures.

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3:10 p.m.

Denmark's prime minister has said "the use of chemical weapons in a peaceful English town ... brings back memories of the Cold War."

Lars Loekke Rasmussen was commenting Tuesday on the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in southern England.

Loekke Rasmussen told Denmark's TV2 that his country would consult "with our allies what countermeasures it can lead to."

The Danish government leader also expressed "sympathy with the people affected and solidarity with Britain."

May told Britain's Parliament it is "highly likely" Russia was to blame for the March 4 attack. British police and intelligence reports say that Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripals were poisoned by a military grade nerve agent produced in Russia.

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2:50 p.m.

The Russian Foreign Ministry says it has handed the British ambassador a note of protest regarding the accusations levelled against Moscow over last week's poisoning of an ex-Russian spy.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain hospitalized in critical condition after being exposed to a military-grade nerve agent.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed retaliatory measures if Russia offers no explanation for how the nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union came to poison the former spy and his daughter in a British city.

The Russian Foreign Ministry says it has summoned British Ambassador Laurie Bristow and handed him a protest note over the "baseless accusations" levelled against Russia. The ministry dismissed the reaction of British authorities to the attack as "provocative" and said it suspects the poisoning is "another unscrupulous attempt of the British authorities to discredit Russia."

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2:30 p.m.

British police say the investigation into the chemical agent attack on a former Russian spy will last many weeks, and that they are not declaring a person of interest yet in the probe.

In a brief statement outside police headquarters, new counter-terror chief Neil Basu offered more details on the movements of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia before they were attacked in the English town of Salisbury on March 4. He appealed to the public to come forward if they saw the pair that day.

Basu says the public will see much police activity in and around the city over the coming days and that they should not be alarmed.

Basu also revealed for the first time that Skripal was a British citizen — a fact that might colour the government's response to the incident.

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2:15 p.m.

Germany's foreign minister says Berlin is "very concerned" about the poisoning of the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in England and is voicing solidarity with Britain.

Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement that he spoke by phone Tuesday with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. He said that "we condemn this attack with a banned chemical weapon in the strongest terms."

Gabriel said that the perpetrators must be brought to justice and added: "If it is confirmed that Russia is behind this, that would be a very serious matter."

Gabriel is to be replaced as foreign minister by Heiko Maas, who is a member of the same party, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel's new government takes office on Wednesday.

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1:45 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said "it sounds" like Russia was responsible for the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in England.

Trump told reporters he will discuss the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in southern England with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday.

"It sounds to me that they believe it was Russia and I would certainly take that finding as fact," Trump said. He added the U.S. will condemn Russia if it agrees with Britain's findings.

His comments came after May told Parliament it is "highly likely" Russia was to blame for the attack.

British police and intelligence reports say that the Skripals were poisoned by a military grade nerve agent produced in Russia.

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12:40 p.m.

British police have cordoned off a parking lot ticketing machine in the southwestern city of Salisbury as authorities retraced the steps of a former Russian spy and his daughter targeted in a chemical weapons attack.

The ticketing machine near a shopping centre in Salisbury, 90 miles (145 kilometres) southwest of London, was covered by a tent similar to those at other sites where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were seen during a March 4 excursion into the city.

A bench where the pair were found and markers for Skripal's son and wife in a nearby graveyard are also beneath tents.

Authorities say the pair were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent and that Russia is "highly likely" to be behind it. Prime Minister Theresa May is demanding an explanation.

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12:25 p.m.

The French Foreign Ministry says the nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain is "a totally unacceptable attack."

Without mentioning Russia, the ministry said in a statement that France repeatedly expressed "its refusal of impunity for those who use or develop toxic agents."

According to the statement, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke with his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, to express France's solidarity to "a top and strategic ally."

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12:20 p.m.

A senior European Union official is calling for an EU-wide response to the poisoning of a former spy amid questions over whether Russia is to blame.

European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said Tuesday that "we cannot have nerve gas being used in our societies. This should be addressed by all of us."

He told EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France, that "it is of the utmost importance that those who are responsible for what has happened see very clearly that there is European solidarity, unequivocal, unwavering and very strong."

Timmerman's appeal is a show of solidarity amid tense negotiations on Britain's departure from the EU next year.

Ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in England last week and remain in critical condition.

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Noon

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd says police and the domestic security service will look into a number of deaths in Britain that may be linked to Russia.

In a letter made public Tuesday, Rudd says the government takes seriously allegations that some 14 deaths may have some links to Russia.

"In the weeks to come, I will want to satisfy myself that the allegations are nothing more than that," Rudd said. "The police and MI5 agree and will assist in that endeavour."

BuzzFeed News reported in 2017 that some 14 deaths in Britain and the United States dating back to 2006 may have been linked to Russia. The cases include some prominent critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin including oligarch Boris Berezovsky and whistle-blower Alexander Perepilichny.

The list also includes former spy Alexander Litvinenko, killed by radioactive tea in 2006, a killing that British officials have linked to the Russian government.

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11:50 a.m.

The British representative to the world's chemical weapons watchdog says it is highly likely that Russia is implicated in the nerve agent attack on a former spy and his daughter "by failure to control its own materials or by design."

Ambassador Peter Wilson told the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Tuesday that "I did not expect to have to brief this council on the first offensive use of a nerve agent of any sort on European territory since World War II."

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter had been poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed in the Soviet Union.

Wilson has called the attack "not just a crime against the Skripals. It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the U.K., which put the lives of innocent civilians at risk." His comments to the closed-door meeting were tweeted by his delegation.

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11:30 a.m.

The chairwoman of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament says Britain is trying to influence this weekend's Russian presidential election by accusing Moscow of poisoning an ex-spy.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in an English city last week and are in the hospital in critical condition.

Valentina Matviyenko, who is the third most senior official in Russia, said on Tuesday the British prime minister's statement aims to "exert influence and pressure" on the March 18 vote.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday Russia is "highly likely" to be responsible for the attack.

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11:20 a.m.

A former chief of Russia's main domestic intelligence agency says another post-Soviet nation could be the source of a rare nerve agent that Britain said was responsible for poisoning a Russian ex-spy in an English city last week.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday that Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter had been poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed in the Soviet Union near the end of the Cold War.

Nikolai Kovalyov, former chief of the FSB, told the Russian news agency on Tuesday that Novichok used to be stored in different parts of the Soviet Union, including Ukraine, which have since become independent nations, and that Ukraine or another post-Soviet nation could be the source of it.

Britain has asked the Russian ambassador in London to explain how the nerve agent turned up in the English city of Salisbury, leaving Skripal and his adult daughter in critical condition.

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11:15 a.m.

Russian news agencies say the Foreign Ministry has summoned the British ambassador in Moscow over the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy.

The foreign ministry was quoted by Russian wires as saying that the ambassador must visit the ministry later on Tuesday.

Britain says a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union was used in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. It has demanded a response from Moscow.

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10:40 a.m.

The chief of the world's chemical weapons watchdog says that those responsible for the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter "must be held accountable."

In a speech Tuesday to the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called him Monday evening to inform him of the results of investigations into the attack on 66-year-old Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia.

British Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament that Russia is "highly likely" to blame for poisoning Skripal and his daughter with a military-grade nerve agent.

Uzumcu says that, "It is extremely worrying that chemical agents are still being used to harm people. Those found responsible for this use must be held accountable for their actions."

Uzumcu's comments to the closed-door meeting were released by the OPCW.

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10:30 a.m.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russia will only co-operate with Britain on the investigation into last week's poisoning of an ex-Russian spy if it receives samples of the nerve agent that is believed to have sickened the ex-spy and his daughter.

Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday Moscow's requests to see samples of the nerve agent have been turned down, which he called a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws the production of chemical weapons. He insisted that Russia is "not to blame" for the poisoning.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter had been poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed in the Soviet Union. May said Russia has until the end of Tuesday to explain how the substance ended up in Britain.

Lavrov said on Tuesday Moscow is willing to co-operate with the probe but suggested that London would be "better off" complying with its international obligations "before putting forward ultimatums."

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9:35 a.m.

Britain's government is considering how to deal with the poisoning of an ex-spy as it awaits a Russian government response to its claim that Russian was involved.

Officials said Tuesday Prime Minister Theresa May is reviewing a range of economic and diplomatic measures.

May has said it is "highly likely" Russia was involved in the nerve agent poisoning of 66-year-old Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia. Both remain in critical condition.

The prime minister says Russia has until the end of Tuesday to explain its actions in the case, which focuses on a former Russian military intelligence officer who was convicted of spying for Britain and then released in a spy swap.

Former foreign minister David Miliband has urged May to seek support from Europe and the United States.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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