Britain Rejects Russia’s Offer To Help Investigate Nerve Agent Attack On Former Spy

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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The British government rejected Wednesday an offer from Russia to jointly investigate March’s poisoning of a former Russian spy, saying it was a “diversionary tactic” to hide Moscow’s alleged culpability for the attack.

Delegations from the two nations faced off at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague, Netherlands, where the British envoy said the idea of working with Russia on a probe into the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is “perverse.”

Doing so would force the victim to “engage the likely perpetrator in a joint investigation,” John Foggo, Britain’s envoy to the OPCW, said in a statement.

Britain has blamed Russia for the March 4 attack on the Skripals in Salisbury, England, which left both father and daughter in critical condition. Investigators say the substance used to poison the pair is Novichok, a Cold War-era chemical weapon developed by the Soviet Union.

The British government says it used a combination of scientific analysis and other intelligence to conclude that the nerve agent came from Russia. It has not revealed what organization or laboratory in Russia produced the chemical.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Tuesday the Skripal attack could have been a “provocation arranged by Britain” in order to justify higher military spending.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also tossed out the false flag hypothesis, saying Wednesday that there are “other explanations besides those put forward by our Western colleagues.”

“It could also be advantageous to the British government, who clearly find themselves in a difficult situation having failed to fulfill their promises to voters over Brexit,” Lavrov said, according to Agence France Presse.

The diplomatic crisis over the Skripal incident has pushed relations between Britain and Russia to Cold War-era lows. Both London and Moscow have expelled dozens of each other’s diplomats, with Britain going so far as to suspend high-level meetings with Lavrov and other top Russian envoys.

Washington has backed its British ally in the dispute, expelling 60 Russian diplomats from the U.S. and closing the Russian consulate in Seattle. Moscow responded in kind by ordering 60 U.S. diplomats out of Russia and closing the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg.

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