UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson has blamed Russia for the death of a woman who was exposed to the nerve agent Novichok, the same type of nerve agent used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
“The simple reality is that Russia has committed an attack on British soil which has seen the death of a British citizen,” Williamson said when asked in the British parliament about the threat facing people in Britain.
“That is something that I think the world will unite with us in actually condemning,” Williamson said.
Asked whether Russia could be responsible, Wallace said: “Based on the evidence we had at the time of the Skripal attack, the knowledge they [Russia] had developed Novichok, they had explored assassination programs in the past, they had motive, form and stated policy, we would still assert to a very high assurance that the Russian state was behind the original attack.
He spoke hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that the Kremlin believes “it would be quite absurd” to blame Russia for the poisoning.
One senior Russian official suggested the death was part of an effort to fan tensions between Moscow and Washington ahead of next week’s summit between Putin and US President Donald Trump in Helsinki.
“The circumstances in the Amesbury situation are troubling, recently such cases emerge ahead of important events,” Aleksandr Shulgin, Russia’s envoy to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said.
Sergei Zheleznyak, a member of the ruling United Russia party, also accused Britain of trying to sully the July 16 summit.
Britain “understands that direct dialogue between the two superpowers is capable of reducing the level of confrontation, gradually raising the level of trust between our countries, and destroying the lies fabricated against Russia,” Zheleznyak said in July 9 comments released by his party.
Dawn Sturgess, 44, who lived in a homeless hostel in Salisbury died in hospital on Sunday after falling critically ill due to handling an item on June 30 that was contaminated with the deadly nerve agent “novichok.” Her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, who was also exposed to the nerve agent, remains critically ill in hospital.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “appalled and shocked” by the death of Dawn Sturgess which comes after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury with the same nerve agent.
The British government claims the attempted murder was an act of the Russian government while Moscow vehemently denies the claims and has warned Britain that it “will be sorry” for falsely accusing Moscow of carrying out a chemical attack against a former double-agent.