Putin Weighs Retaliation Over UK Spy Case

'Response will come very quickly,' says official after Moscow diplomats are expelled from UK
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2018 12:06 PM CDT
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a youth forum in Moscow Thursday, March 15, 2018.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, pool)

(Newser) – As the US and other nations line up with Britain and accuse Russia of poisoning a former spy, Moscow remains defiant. Russia has promised to retaliate against the UK for penalties including the expulsion of 23 diplomats. "The response will come very quickly, I can assure you," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, per NPR. A spokesman for Vladimir Putin said Putin himself will decide on the response. The threat comes as the US, the UK, Germany, and France issued a joint statement saying it is a virtual certainty that Russia was behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, given the use of the Russian-produced nerve agent novichok, reports the Guardian. It called on Moscow to explain the toxin's presence and answer all questions surrounding the attack.

"This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War," said the joint statement. "It is an assault on U.K. sovereignty and any such use by a State party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of international law." Russia continues to deny any role. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, blamed Russia on Wednesday, and President Trump seems to agree with the assessment. "A very sad situation," he said. "It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it. Something that should never, ever happen, and we’re taking it very seriously." (Also Thursday, the US hit Russians with sanctions over meddling in the US election.)

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