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UK promises ‘robust’ response in spy poisoning case

Sergei Skripal, 66, the former spy, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, were allegedly poisoned in Salisbury, England, on Sunday and have since remained critical in hospital. A police officer first on the scene was also affected by the suspected nerve agent.

world Updated: Mar 08, 2018 23:37 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Home secretary Amber Rudd,House of Commons,Sergei Skripal
Sergei Skripal, a former colonel of Russia's GRU military intelligence service, in the defendants' cage at a hearing in a Moscow military district court.(Reuters File)

Britain on Thursday promised to deliver a “robust” response to those responsible for Sunday’s alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter by a suspected nerve agent.

Home secretary Amber Rudd said in a statement to the House of Commons that using the nerve agent was a “brazen and reckless act” that amounted to “attempted murder in the most cruel and public way”, but refused to identify those behind it until investigations were completed.

Sergei Skripal, 66, the former spy, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, were allegedly poisoned in Salisbury, England, on Sunday and have since remained critical in hospital. A police officer first on the scene was also affected by the suspected nerve agent and was said to be serious but recovering.

British media and some politicians have speculated that the Russian state could be behind the attack — suggestions dismissed by Moscow as part of an anti-Russian campaign.

A Downing Street spokesman said when those responsible for the attack are identified, they would face a “robust” response.

Defence secretary Gavin Williamson alleged Russia was becoming an “ever greater threat”.

“Russia’s being assertive, Russia’s being more aggressive, and we have to change the way that we deal with it because we can’t be in a situation in these areas of conflict where we are being pushed around by another nation,” he told ITV.

Scientific tests by government experts have identified the specific nerve agent used, which will help identify the source, but authorities have refused to disclose the details.

Skripal betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence before his arrest by Russian authorities in 2004. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2006, and in 2010 was given refuge in Britain after being exchanged for Russian spies.

A large number of experts were said to be working on the case, which has been compared to the 2006 alleged poisoning and death of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London.

(With inputs from Agencies)

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 22:03 IST