MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy and his daughter in Britain (all times local):
A Russian scientist who helped create the nerve agent that allegedly was used to poison an ex-spy in England says British accusations blaming Russia for the attack are false.
Leonid Rink says the agent dubbed Novichok in the West had a different name when it was designed as a chemical weapon in the Soviet Union.
Rink told Russia’s state RIA Novosti news agency Tuesday that Britain and other western nations easily could have synthesized the nerve agent after chemical expert Vil Mirzayanov emigrated to the United States and revealed the formula.
Echoing Russian government statements, Rink says it wouldn’t make sense for Moscow to poison Sergei Skripal, a military intelligence officer who spied for Britain, because he was a used asset “drained” by both Russia and Britain.
He claims Britain’s use of the name Novichok for the nerve agent is intended to convince the public that Russia is to blame.
Britain’s National Security Council is meeting to consider more possible punitive measures against Russia over the poisoning of an ex-spy in England.
The meeting on Tuesday was happening after nearly two dozen Russian diplomats were ordered to leave Britain because of the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter.
Russia denies involvement in the pair’s poisoning. Western powers have described it as a sign of increasingly aggressive Russian meddling abroad.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and other European Union leaders are due to discuss the poisoning at a summit on Thursday.
The EU on Monday condemned the poisoning and called on Russia to “address urgently” British questions over the Soviet-developed nerve agent Novichok program.
British police investigators say it may take “months” to complete the widening inquiry. The focus is on the movement of the Skripals in the hours before they were found unconscious.
Moscow is awaiting nearly two dozen Russian diplomats ordered to leave Britain as part of a standoff over a nerve agent attack on British soil.
Britain ordered the 23 diplomats to leave by Tuesday, and they’re expected in Moscow later, according to Russian media reports.
Russia retaliated by expelling 23 British diplomats, who are expected to leave Moscow in the coming days.
Russia denies involvement in the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the British city of Salisbury earlier this month. They remain in critical condition.
Britain accuses Russia of the poisoning, which Western powers see as an example of increasingly aggressive Russian meddling abroad.
International chemical weapons experts took samples Monday of the nerve agent used, which Britain says is the Soviet-developed Novichok.