Kremlin Shocked That Citizens In The UK Are Being Struck Down By A Soviet Nerve Agent

REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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Moscow said Thursday that it is “concerned” about the latest reported Novichok poisoning in the U.K., which is now demanding answers from the Kremlin.

A British couple — reportedly Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturges — fell ill in Amesbury Saturday and are currently in critical condition at a local hospital after exposure to the same Soviet-era chemical weapon that put an ex-spy and his daughter in the hospital in March. (RELATED: Two British Citizens Critically Ill After Exposure To Same Soviet-Era Nerve Agent That Struck Down A Former Spy And His Daughter)

The earlier incident was blamed on Russia, which has a history of targeting dissidents and former agents both at home and overseas. An investigation into Saturday’s incident is ongoing.

“It is now time that the Russian state comes forward and explains exactly what has gone on,” U.K. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said Thursday. “It is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets, or for our streets, our parks, our towns, to be dumping grounds for poison.”

The secretary’s comments followed those of Prime Minister Theresa May, who described the latest poisoning as “deeply disturbing.”

“The Russian state could put this ‘wrong’ right. They could tell us what happened, what they did and fill in some of the significant gaps that we are trying to pursue,” British Security Minister Ben Wallace explained. “I’m waiting for the phone call from the Russian state.”

The Kremlin argues it had nothing to do with either incident. Russia also shielded itself with the World Cup, with the Russian Embassy in the Netherlands asking, “How dumb do they think [Russia] is to use ‘again’ the so-called ‘Novichok’ in the middle of the FIFA World Cup … ”

“To my shame I don’t know who Ben Wallace is,” Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal spokesman, said in response to the latest accusations. “The minister knows very well that Russia proposed a joint investigation long ago and that this proposal was on the agenda. It was made long ago and unfortunately the British side is not showing any interest in such proposals.”

“Of course we’re concerned that these substances have been used repeatedly in Europe,” he explained. “However, on the other hand, we have no information about which substances were used or how they were used.”

Peskov said there was nothing definitive connecting Russia to any of the recent poisonings, The Guardian reported.

A number of Russian officials have denied developing or possessing Novichok, and some have even argued that the initial poisoning was a plot by British intelligence agencies.

As the two individuals affected over the weekend have no ties to espionage, unlike former Russian spy turned double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, the British authorities suspect that the latest incident of contamination and exposure might have been an unintended result of the earlier attack, which occurred just about eight miles from the Amesbury poisoning.

Although health agencies say the risk of public exposure is low, there are reportedly growing concerns that the substance might be lingering at sites around town. Novichok was apparently designed as a persistent nerve agent.

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